For nearly 70 years Gates Bar-B-Q has been serving up Kansas City its legendary barbecue.
Kansas City traces its barbecue history to Henry Perry, who operated out of a trolley barn at 19th and Highland in the legendary African-American neighborhood around 18th & Vine.
Perry served slow-cooked ribs on pages of newsprint for 25 cents a slab. Perry came from Shelby County, Tennessee near Memphis and began serving barbecue in 1908. The style of Kansas City and Memphis barbecue are very similar, although Kansas City tends to use more sauce and a wider variety of meats, including pork, beef, chicken, sausage, and turkey. Perry’s sauce had a somewhat harsh, peppery flavor.
In 1946 Arthur Pinkard, who was a cook for Perry, joined with George Gates to form Gates and Sons Bar-B-Q. The restaurant was situated initially in the same neighborhood.
Gates barbecue sauce does not contain molasses, and the ingredients, as listed on the bottle, are: “Tomatoes, vinegar, salt, sugar, celery, garlic, spices, and pepper. 1/10th of 1% potassium sorbate preservative added.” It is available in “Original,” “Hot,” or “Sweet and Mild” varieties.
Gates also expanded its footprint in a more conventional way, with restaurants all displaying certain trademarks — red-roofed buildings, a recognizable logo (a strutting man clad in tuxedo and top hat) and the customary “Hi, May I Help You?” greeting belted out by its employees as patrons enter.
Gates has opened restaurants throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area. Gates also sold barbecue sandwiches at Kauffman Stadium during Kansas City Royals home games and currently at Arrowhead Stadium during Kansas City Chiefs home games.