"People have been asking about it for years. That's our first sign," co-owner Jeff Stehney says. "But it probably came 10 years after people wanted it."
The fry seasoning is nearly as old as the original gas station restaurant, which opened in August 1996.
"We didn't want regular salt on our fries," Stehney says. "So we went to the company spice cabinet."
Salt was joined in the shaker by sugar, dehydrated onion, MSG, paprika, brown sugar, and dehydrated beef broth.
"People don't use tallow or beef fat in their fries anymore," Stehney explains. "But we still have to have some type of that beef-y flavor."
The french-fry seasoning shares a number of ingredients with the standard rubs used at Oklahoma Joe's, but unlike the barbecue rubs, don't expect to see a 2-pound box at the Kansas City BBQ Store.
"It's a perfect size at 3 ounces. Your wife or girlfriend can put it in her purse or you can put it in your fanny pack and take it to your other favorite restaurants and season the fries accordingly," Stehney says.
While the seasoning is meant for fries, Stehney says it can also work on burgers and popcorn. But if you need a rub, Stehney would point you toward the Cowtown Barbeque Products line. The fry seasoning and recently the bottled barbecue sauce are both sold under the brand Joe's Kansas City.
The retail expansion, which Stehney can focus on now that the new restaurant in Leawood has been open for several months, is happening at the same time as the kitchen build-out in the Olathe location. The remodeled kitchen will be nearly triple the size in order to meet increased demand for catering services and serve as a commissary for a new concept that is in the works in the same shopping plaza.
"It's brand-new concept, adjacent to Oklahoma Joe's [in Olathe]," Stehney says. "It will be meat-centered with cured and smoked meats. It's something meat-centric and sandwich-oriented."
The french-fry seasoning is available online, in the three Oklahoma Joe's restaurants and at the Kansas City BBQ Store.