Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Que is dropping “Oklahoma” for “Kansas City.”
Before the end of the year, the nationally known barbecue restaurant will officially change its name to Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que.
“It’s not a knock on Oklahoma or the Oklahoma name,” said Jeff Stehney, co-owner with his wife, Joy. “We are super proud of our Oklahoma beginnings. But it has been 17 years that it has been 100 percent Kansas City owned. This will better represent the city as one of the top — I think it’s the best — barbecue destinations.”
The Kansas City, Kan., company has slowly phased in the new name over the last three years.
In late 2011, the restaurant introduced Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que Sauce — without Oklahoma in the name. Then, about 18 months ago, it came out with a Joe’s Original French Fry Seasoning — again without Oklahoma on the logo.
Now it has two new T-shirts — one saying “Quality Smoked Meats, Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que” and the other saying “Home of the Z-Man, Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que.”
On Nov. 17, menus with the Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que label will appear, and business cards at restaurant counters will have the new name. Employees also will answer the phones as Joe’s KC.
Outdoor signs are scheduled to change to the Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que name by early December.
The Stehneys and another partner, Joe Don Davidson, the founder of the Oklahoma Joe’s Smoker Co., opened the first Oklahoma Joe’s restaurant in January 1996 in Stillwater, Okla. The Kansas City, Kan., location in a gas station was opened in August that year.
In 1997, Davidson sold his smoker company and moved to Texas. Without an owner/operator on site, the partners decided to close the Oklahoma restaurant, and the Stehneys became sole owners of the restaurant in Kansas City, Kan. The Stehneys later opened restaurants in Leawood and Olathe.
“We want the name to more clearly reflect who and what we are,” Stehney said. “Same owner, same great food, slightly different name, maybe a better name.”