The Incredible Sisters of Jones Bar-B-Q
Updated: Jul 17
Meet sisters and pitmasters, Mary and Deborah Jones. But first, you’ll need to get in line.
These Bar-B-Queens have gone from local celebrities to internationally renowned culinary artists. Their no-frills approach inspired people to make the pilgrimage to Jones Bar-B-Q from places all over the globe, even as far as Australia.
Jones Bar-B-Q is a complete barbecue experience, it boasts an authenticity only found from a humble, family-run joint operating in a roadside parking lot. The sisters’ pit prowess draws a crowd, creating a friendly line of characters as flavorful as the reward for reaching the end of it. If you’re lucky there will be some burnt ends still up for grabs (burnt ends, a Kansas City delicacy, are the crispy point-ends of a smoked brisket). No matter the selection, they’re all delicious and best enjoyed from a patio picnic table watching 18 wheelers and locomotives grunt past.
The ambience is the perfect embodiment of the Jones Sisters, two pitmasters dedicated to sacred old-school practices and family recipe. They’re constantly in motion, operating with the coordination (and head-butting) that only a pair of sisters could possess.
“People always making a big deal about us being women pitmasters, but women have been doing things all along. We just never got credit for it.” -Deborah
The Jones’ family history is full of determination and hard work.
Leavy B. Jones Sr. laid the groundwork for Jones Bar-B-Q decades ago. Growing up during the depression made him resilient and wise. He was a proponent of honest work and honest business. That’s why he poured his soul into stoking the pit.
“When our daddy first opened the restaurant, he used to stand out on the street waving a racing flag at drivers to get them to pull over. He would give them a little taste of the barbecue for free, and that’s how he got customers.” -Deborah
Leavy’s creativity didn’t stop there, in fact you can still taste it today in the Jones Style BBQ Sauce. The sisters began bottling their famous flavors last year—but they’ll still never give up the secret ingredient. You’ll just have to try it for yourself.
There was a brief pause in business following the passing of Jones Sr., but the girls didn’t just inherit his culinary talent, but also his drive and work ethic.
“My daddy always taught us ‘I don’t care how many times you fall down. Get back up and brush yourself off.’” -Deborah
The sisters reopened their doors with a mission to put Deborah’s daughter, Izora, through school, debt free. Since then, they’ve accomplished that and so much more.
“Our motto is freshness, freshness every day. It has to taste that way today, tomorrow, next week…It’s not the ovens. It’s not the holes in the ground, it’s not any of that. It’s actual cooking with wood—the fire, the smoke, the taste.” -Mary
Following the stay-at-home orders issued in March, Deborah and Mary came up with a creative solution to social distancing. The sisters made their very own, temperature controlled barbecue vending machine. Now you can stop by for their famous meats and sauce at any hour.