Derby couple set to open barbecue eatery

Eric and Nikki King of Derby are opening The Barbe-Q-Pit at 4520 E. 47th St. South. Most of the menu will feature traditional barbecue, but there also will be steaks, burgers, seafood and meal-sized salads.

 

After more than a year of planning and research, two Derby residents are opening a new barbecue restaurant. The Barbe-Q-Pit is scheduled to open sometime in the next several weeks at 4520 E. 47th St. South, just north of Derby.

“I’m at the mercy of inspections right now,” said Eric King, who will operate the eatery with his wife, Nikki.

Eric King said he’s been impressed with the number of people who either go to Kansas City for its famed barbecue.

“We want to bring that Kansas City-style barbecue here,” he said.

Most of the menu will feature traditional barbecue, but there also will be steaks, burgers, seafood, and “big salads that are meals unto themselves,” he said. King called it a “robust menu.”

There will be two styles of service at the 6,250-square-foot restaurant, which will seat up to 215 customers.

For lunch, there will be a cafeteria-style buffet that King said will ensure speedy service for customers who have a limited amount of time. From 4 p.m. on, there will be full table service.

The semi-open layout will allow patrons to see cooks barbecuing and preparing the meats.

King projects a lot of the lunch crowd will be from nearby McConnell and Spirit along with Derby and Wichita.

The couple had looked at the former Braum’s building on K-15, but shortly thereafter, it was torn down.

But they’re happy with this site and they’re designing the business to be a destination restaurant, not unlike Stroud’s in north Wichita, which pulls in people from a wide range for its fried chicken and home-style meals.

King, a U.S. Army veteran, has a long career in local restaurant work.

Business aims for 40 to 55 employees

He’s worked at Ryan’s Steakhouse, Longhorn Steakhouse and helped open the Delano Diner in 2017.

King also worked with Kassem Yassine of Wichita, who has opened a number of restaurants, include the Delano Diner.

“He was a big inspiration to help me get this off the ground,” King said of Yassine. “He’s one of my mentors and I couldn’t have done it without him.”

King said he wants to combine the best practices from the corporate and the small business worlds with this business.

That includes providing benefits for employees, such as tuition reimbursement, that most small businesses don’t.

“The culture is really important,” King said. “Without the people, good employees and good customers, we won’t be in business,” he said.

King projects he will have 40 to 55 employees, with 55 meaning they will be fully staffed.

Years ago, King also had a business in bail bonds and bounty hunting.

“You have to make a living somehow,” he said.

In that regard, he had some contact with individuals at the very site he is putting the restaurant, which used to be Jezebel’s, an adult entertainment business with a checkered history that closed.

But his days in that business is now in the past, and King said he’s ready to move forward with the next chapter of his life.

The couple have been thinking about and planning this concept for more than a year.

“We’re super excited,” he said. “Thank God there’s only 24 hours in a day because if there was more, I’d just have more on the plate to deal with.”

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