The "enemy" surrounding Shannon's venue is the construction of a new Troost bridge to the west, which has taken a serious toll on his lunch business and sliced into dinner revenues, too. And in the former vacant field to the east, a giant, asphalt-grinding machine has created a small mountain of dark pebbles. Even scarier to Shannon is the fact that construction of a new four-lane road hasn't even started on the stretch of 85th Street right in front of his parking lot.
"If it's hard for customers to get to us now," Shannon says, shaking his head, "can you imagine what it will be like when access to our parking lot will be seriously limited?"
It wasn't too hard for me to get to B.B.'s after winding my way through the side streets off 83rd Terrace; Shannon has put up small signs with red arrows directing patrons to his place. And he's not worried about regulars finding their way to his rollicking barbecue shack: "My regulars are the heart and soul of this business. But if that's all you have, you can't stay open. I need my twice-a-month customers, my once-a-month customers and my once-every-six-months customers to find me, too!"
It's true that 85th Street, a popular east-west artery on Kansas City's south side, is a mess right now at one of its most popular junctions; there's now nothing left of the roadhouse where the legendary Stroud's used to have crowds waiting for an hour for a plate of fried chicken. At least Shannon's saloon is still open, and even if his surrounding neighborhood looks desolate, the aroma of pit-smoked pork ribs still wafts over the parking lot and lures steelworkers at the bridge construction site for lunch.
"Once the new road is done, it will be great for our business," Shannon said. "We've just got to hold out until then."
He says if he can help it, there won't ever be a white flag at Fort B.B.