BY JOYCE SMITH
The Kansas City Star
When it comes to his “competition level” barbeque, Rob Magee has traded non-paying judges for paying customers.
Magee has won many barbeque awards since he started competing in 2002. But he long wanted to have a brick-and-mortar location where he could showcase his barbeque for public consumption — and still at competition quality.
His Q39 barbeque restaurant and bar is scheduled to open Saturday at 1000 W. 39th St. His goal: Bring barbeque up to the next level — full-service barbeque with upgraded beers, wines and specialty cocktails.
“It’s going to be nice that the people are coming here instead of me running all over the country,” Magee said.
He has spent three decades working in food and beverage for top area hotels. But on the side, Magee and his wife, Kelly, along with their competitive team, Munchin’ Hogs, have won first-place awards for barbeque competitions across the country. They were entering as many as 40 events annually before starting work on the restaurant.
A look at the menu will show Magee hasn’t lost his competitive spirit.
The scratch kitchen will offer such appetizers as wings, smoked and grilled pork belly, and fondue made with white cheddar cheese and Tallgrass Brewing Co.’s Pub Ale, with freshly baked soft pretzels and apples for dipping.
It will offer a smoked chicken tortilla soup, smoked chicken Cobb salad and wood-fired grilled salmon salad, brisket burgers (oak wood grilled and then ground brisket on a Farm to Market Bread Co. toasted bun), specialty sandwiches, “competition” barbeque plates (prepared with the same specifications that won awards), wood-fired grilled plates including steak and seafood, and more.
Sides will include apple coleslaw, white bean cassoulet (sausage, onion, tomato and thyme), and macaroni and cheese with five cheeses. It also will have specials such as burnt end meatballs.
Last summer, Magee took over the former Oriental Feast spot just west of Southwest Trafficway. He gutted the 5,623-square-foot space for a new “urban rustic” decor using brick, exposed ceilings, stained concrete floors and distressed wood, along with an open kitchen. Barn doors open to a private dining area seating up to 48 people (dubbed the Blue Ribbon room). Some of the team’s other awards are on display in the main dining room.
Q39 also will have a separate to-go area in front with its own entrance. It is scheduled to open in a couple of weeks.
A garage door in front of the bar area can be raised during nice weather.
Magee didn’t want to sell his sauces before. A competitor could have bought them and then used them in a competition. But now three of his sauces will be for sale at the restaurant — classic, honey glaze and zesty.
There’s also a fourth sauce, chipotle-cilantro, that isn’t sold in a bottle — only with a barbeque order.