Daniel Hipsher may not be a household name in Johnson County, but he means plenty to members of the Kansas City Barbecue Society and people who follow the American Royal. Hipsher's barbecue sauce won first place at the Royal in 2003.
He's also relatively well-known just west of the Kansas City area, where he opened Daniel's Bar-B-Q's in Tonganoxie and Lansing. He sold the two locations in 2006 but got the itch to get back in the restaurant game.
The new Daniel's has been open for ten days in the old Margarita's West location at 12200 Johnson Drive in Mission.
"Three years ago I sold off
the restaurants to concentrate more on marketing the barbecue sauces
and getting them in grocery stores," Hipsher told me. "Then, in October
of '08, I came back to help out owner Bill Hopper and we strategized on
how to grow the restaurant and sauce side.... I missed the smoker, missed
the customers, and it worked out for me. We decided to move the Lansing store here to Johnson County."
Hipsher started Daniel's in 1994 and before that worked at Porky's Pit
BBQ, his father's barbecue restaurant. (His father worked at
Rosedale's for 34 years before opening Porky's Pit.) "I begged my dad to
let me come to work with him and when I was eight he got tired of me
whining and brought me in. I loved it. I was running the fry machine
when I was nine.
Hipsher even owes his award-winning sauce to his father. "It's
his recipe, I just tweaked it a little." He sells it at Johnson County grocery
stores such as Hy-Vee. "In the past, I've used the restaurants to push the
barbecue sauce but now I'm using the barbecue sauce to push the
restaurants. I've had many customers come in never having tried it and
leave saying it's the best sauce they've ever tasted."
In addition to his sauce, Hipsher is most proud of his ribs, burnt-ends and pulled pork sandwiches; the last two of which he enters into competitions. "The difference in our pulled pork sandwiches is the rub we give it. There can be no sauce on it and it's still going to be the most flavorful pulled pork you've ever had."
The pulled pork sandwich costs $6.99, as does the Daniel's long bun. (That includes crinkle cut fries.) A slab of spare ribs is $18.19 and the burnt ends are $8.29. Hamburgers are also on the menu starting at $5.99, and whole chickens go for $10.49.
Customers of the other Daniel's Bar-B-Qs will immediately notice the biggest difference: This Daniel's is full service. "With the layout, we thought it'd be awkward to have have counter service," Hipsher explained. "It doesn't mean it's going to take a long time though. I hate it when you have to wait 15 minutes for service and another 15 for food. We want to get our food to you with five or six minutes of sitting down."
Daniel's is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Its phone number is 913-248-4477 and it also has a Web Site.
-- Owen Morris