The Rosedale Story
Nestled in the heart of Kansas City, Kansas is one of the country's finest barbecues. Located at 600 Southwest Boulevard, Rosedale Bar B Que boasts over seventy years of delicious barbecue and friendly, prompt service. Founded by Anthony Rieke and wife Alda and brother- in-law Anthony "Tony" Sieleman on July 4, 1934, Rosedale Bar B Que began as a neighborhood hot dog and beer stand known as "The Bucket Shop." At the Bucket Shop you could buy a half-gallon bucket full of the coldest beer in town for a quarter.
Beer had just been made legal for a short time and the Rieke's and Sieleman believed they could make a few pennies selling beer…but it wasn't hot dogs that the partners craved. It was barbecue. On the way home each night they could smell "Fatty" Sharp's smoking meats a half-mile down the road. "…and Fatty and his wife would get to arguing, it was like going to a show," Rieke said.
So the following summer with $183 and some pocket change between them, the partners decided to start a new business about 100 feet from their beer stand. They paid their first months rent, bought a $20 occupation license, and their first 16 gallon keg of beer, nailed some tin siding on a 12 by 16 foot frame, moved in and fired up their first barbecue pit. During their first winter, they added sheets of plywood to the inside walls to help keep the customers warm at the nine-seat counter.
"It was 1935 and there was no refrigeration in those days. There was an icehouse down the street so we'd go over there and get a 300lb. block of ice for 75 cents and carry it back over. …that would make it sell, having it cold, real cold. And then people would get hungry while drinking beer. It worked together." (Anthony Rieke)
The venture that was intended to help the partners survive the hardships of the Great Depression turned out to be an American Dream come true for them. As the years passed, business grew as well as the barbecue: initially with the 12' x 16' building and then with Rieke's development of the first practical commercial rotisserie barbecue oven. "I had to make sure the meat would cook evenly so I did a test run personally. I crawled in and rode around in it kind of like a carousel, and it all worked out just fine."
When asked what it takes to stay successful in the barbecue business for over 85 years, especially in a town known for barbecue, the family jokes " We just have a different genetic composition …we have smoke running through our veins." (Marisha Smith) The customers say that it is the value, service and continuous tradition over the years that keeps them returning for more.
Rosedale is a down-home place where patrons collect their order at the counter, take their food to one of the tables or booths and dig in. Rosedale has never felt the need to offer trendy items on the menu. They have just stuck to the traditional barbecue fare, thus maintaining a supreme quality in the meats they serve: Brisket, ham, pork and turkey as well as the ever popular ribs and chicken. Loyal to the restaurants inception, they still offer some of the best hot dogs in town. Today you can even top the hot dogs with barbecue style chili. Yummy! The side orders include barbecued baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad, onion rings, jalapeno poppers, corn nuggets, and some of the crispiest golden fries in town. Rosedale's sauce is a spicy, mildly hot family recipe that compliments the meat to perfection. Many restaurants serve a "Smokey" flavored sauce but Mr. Rieke always believed the smoked flavor should be in the meat, not artificially put into the sauce. For the Rosedale experience at office or home, Rosedale also offers catering and event planning for all occasions.
Rosedale has served itinerants just off the trains, news crews, entertainers, businessmen, blue-collar workers, government officials and even a former president. "During the Depression I couldn't get a job, and that was probably the best thing to happen to me. If I had …well they probably would have kept me on until I was too old and then laid me off." (Anthony Rieke) He glanced around the restaurant with a slow smile "Then I wouldn't have had anything."
Anthony Rieke worked daily at the restaurant until his death at age 93 in 1997 at which time his wife Alda Rieke, Sieleman's sister, continued to visit daily until her death at age 94 in 2002. Today the family tradition is being carried on by their daughter Janelle Brown, granddaughter Marisha Smith and her husband Bill.
Today, Rosedale Barbecue is Kansas City's oldest major barbecue restaurant continuously owned and operated by the same family. Rosedale Barbecue has been recognized by The New Yorker, Midwest Living, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Saveur, Chili Pepper, Cowboys & Indians, The Travel Channel, Kansas City Public Television, and many others have written about the Kansas City barbeque institution - Rosedale Barbecue.