Barbecue has been a central part of Deborah "Little" Jones (pictured left) and Mary "Shorty" Jones Mosley’s lives since childhood. Their father, Leavy B. Jones Sr., got his start in the industry at barbecue joint Hezekiah’s in Kansas City, Kansas, and acquired the restaurant in 1987, reopening it as Jones Bar-B-Q.
The sisters inherited the business, and their passion for the work, coupled with a desire to provide for their family, keeps them at it day after day. This spring, the sisters were featured on the third season of Netflix’s Queer Eye, where the Fab Five hosts helped them transform the restaurant from inside out, including upgrading the kitchen and adding patio seating. The Fab Five also helped the sisters begin bottling their famous barbecue sauce, which is now available for sale at the restaurant and online.
Tell us about the restaurant’s history, beginning with your father. My dad taught us how to cook, how to make a fire, how to make sausage. My dad would cut the meat. [Deborah] got on one milk crate, I got on another milk crate, and I would stuff the meat into the grinder, and she would fill them. –Mary Jones Mosley My dad believed that you work [laughs] – the girls and the boys. Maybe you get unemployed, maybe your spouse may leave you and you need to know some stuff. You always have to have a Plan B in place. –Deborah Jones
Tell us about your experience filming for Queer Eye. That was the best week of my life. It was amazing – on that particular day [when the Fab Five showed up], our cashier was sick, so nobody was here but [Deborah] and I, and the line was around the corner. Next thing I know, we see these five faces in the window. They all came to the front at the window, and I see hands waving, “Hey girls! hey girls!” It was awesome. –M.J.M. They came in our home and they were like family. We could talk straight out. It was really just like we’d known each other for years. They jumped in here – especially Bobby [Berk], he was running the cash register. You’d think they worked here! –D.J.
It changed my life tremendously. I’ll never be the same. –M.J.M.
In what way? It was real personal for me. With my confidence level, knowing it’s OK to be who I am. As long as I’m treating people good and doing the right thing in life, then it’s OK to be me. I’ll take that love with me. I just want to bust out crying. There was so much realness. –M.J.M.
What do you have in store for the business moving forward? We have some people we’ll be bringing in so we can have an evening shift from maybe 2 to 6pm. –D.J.
We’re also training our nieces and nephews, and maybe [Deborah’s] daughter to learn the business, maybe keep it going. [But Deborah] won’t want to retire. And if she don’t retire, I can’t retire. We’ll do it till we drop. –M.J.M.
Jones Bar-B-Q., 6706 Kaw Drive, Kansas City, Kansas, 913.788.5005, jonesbbqkc.com