By Kevin Collison
Burnt End BBQ has opened its third location at Crown Center, taking over the space once occupied by Milano’s and stirring in the savory smell of smoked meats.
The new restaurant at 2450 Grand is operated by PB&J, and is the culmination of a culinary career that began in the early 1980s for pitmaster Smokey Schwartz.
Schwartz grew up in San Jose, Calif., but moved to Kansas City in 1982.
He fell in love with barbecue while working as a high schooler during the summers at the former Joe’s Restaurant and Barbecue at 79th and State Line.
“I was working one evening in the kitchen and saw these flickering lights in the back of the restaurant,” Schwartz said. “I went back there and saw my first smoker.
“It was so primitive with the fire coming out of the ground and the chain pulley. It just hit me and I remember going the next day to the pitmaster and telling him I was really interested in what it was.
“I started doing it and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Schwartz’s barbecue journey took him to Smokestack, which later became Jack’s Stack, then Boulevard Barbecue and the Golden Ox before he joined PB&J in 2005.
The first Burnt End was on 135th Street near Quivera in Overland Park, and while it was a restaurant, the main focus was catering. It lasted until a new Burnt End replaced it at 119th and Metcalf in 2014.
“From that point, it took off,” Schartz said. “While we tweaked it a little, we stayed true to the Kansas City theme of barbecue.”
In 2015, Burnt End opened a second outlet in suburban Denver.
Then came the opportunity to come to Crown Center.
“This is very similar to the other Burnt Ends, except we have a full bar. It’s still fast casual and we still have the basic core dishes,” Schwartz said.
“Our menu hits the palette of everyone from a young child to an adult who wants to hang out at the bar or someone here for a business meeting.”
The dining area and bar are in the airy, glass-enclosed space once occupied by Milano’s right off Grand. Customers can access Burnt End either through the shopping center or directly from the street.
A patio and beer garden also are in the works.
The menu includes, of course, burnt ends, as well as all the other meat favorites and sides. Schwartz is particularly proud of his signature bowls, including a Burnt End Bowl with burnt ends, beans and cornbread crumbs topped with crispy onion straws.
The former California kid has polished his barbecue bonafides with a couple of first place awards for his sauces from the American Royal, and three grand champion honors for his barbecue at the National Restaurant Food Show in Chicago.
Hours for Burnt End BBQ are Sundays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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