Archive for Thursday, March 27, 2008

Restaurateur has barbecue in his blood

March 27, 2008

For some, going into the family business is what happens after you tried to follow your passion, but failed. Such is not the case for Daniel Hipsher, owner of Daniel's BBQ, which recently opened at 10 W. 9th St. in Eudora.

Hipsher's father was in the barbecue business in the Kansas City area for more than 50 years, and Hipsher began working at the restaurant his dad managed in 1980.

"I've got pictures of me in a high chair at my dad's stores, and I've got pictures of my oldest in a high chair at my first store, and I've got pictures of my youngest in a high chair at the next store."

Hipsher opened his first restaurant in Edwardsville in 1994 and moved it to Tonganoxie in 1997. He then opened another location at Lansing in 2001.

He also has been participating in barbecue competitions the last five years.

He won first place for his original sauce at the 2003 American Royal, which spreads across 20 acres in Kansas City's Stockyards District and consists of nearly 500 teams. Hipsher also competed on a first-place team at the Jack Daniel's Cookoff in Lynchburg, Tenn.

"I've done competitions where there's 30 teams, and you're out in the middle of the field all the way up to the American Royal where there are thousands of people," Hipsher said.

Hipsher took about five weeks to develop his award winning competition blend No. 9.

But like a band that writes the music for their next album while on tour, he started by tweaking a version of his dad's original sauce.

"I developed it on the competition circuit because when you cook with the original, it gets spicier, but competition judges aren't looking for spicy, they're looking for sweet," Hipsher said.

He tried 13 different variations of the sauce and decided to go with ninth.

"I didn't know what to call the flavor," he said. "It's not a sweet and spicy, it's not a sweet and smoky - there are so many flavors going on. So, I was looking at all my headings and just decided I would call it what I called it in my notes."

The sauce is now sold in stores and restaurants throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area, 29 states, plus France, England Australia and Japan.

Despite all the international success, choosing Eudora for the next Daniel's BBQ still was an easy decision for Hipsher.

"I like the small towns," he said. "I could go in the city and compete with the big guys, but you don't get to know your customers as well. I know customers at all three stores. I really like the smaller towns and building the trust.

"When everything was said and done, it just made sense to come to Eudora. I was hoping they would accept us, and I'll tell you what, I feel like I've lived here forever.

He also said the money he doesn't have to spend to advertise allows him to continue to use quality products

Initially, he ran the Tonganoxie location and his wife, Alisha, ran the Lansing location. Licensees, who pay Hipsher for products but keep all the revenue, now run both restaurants.

Alisha now is a respiratory therapist.

However, the store in Eudora is owned and operated by Hipsher.

"I learned really quickly that I cannot control quality the way I like to at two stores because there's only one of me," he said, "This store is 100 percent mine; I'm here from open to close everyday because it's what I want to do."

Hipsher will cop to the fact that he's working long hours, but he does so happily.

"I have everyone say to me, 'How's everything going? You look tired,"' he said. "I say, 'Yeah, I'm tired,' but I'm able to complain with a grin because I'm so busy."

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