Jones Bar-B-Q Vending Machine – Kansas City, Kansas - Gastro Obscura

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Gastro Obscura

Jones Bar-B-Q Vending Machine

Why settle for barbecue chips when you can get actual barbecue? 


Jones Bar-B-Q is in the front corner of a strip mall parking lot. The former taco stand reborn as a takeout barbecue joint has picnic tables and string lights that stretch from the white pergola above the window where you order. It’s there that you’ll likely see Deborah “Little” Jones or her sister Mary “Shorty” Jones Mosley slinging burnt ends (crispy bits of smoky, fatty brisket)—the signature barbecue dish of Kansas City.

The sisters were introduced to a national audience on Queer Eye, but they’ve been a staple of the local barbecue landscape for three decades. In 2019, they added a Coke machine along with the picnic tables out front as part of the Queer Eye makeover. And that’s when Deborah Jones started wondering why nobody had ever thought to make a barbecue vending machine.

Jones is a lunch-only operation. It opens at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday and dishes up hot food until 3 p.m. or whenever they sell out. Regulars have long asked for longer hours. And Deborah Jones has had to answer the same pleas for her rib tips in the wee hours of the morning from patrons of a nearby bar, lured over by the siren smell of barbecue smoke.

It took six months to figure out the packaging and system. Barbecue can be fickle. Jones’s regular menu items have been reborn as sliders inside clamshell packaging. Pick from rib tips, burnt ends, and smoked and sliced ham and turkey. Each mini sandwich comes with a small container of house barbecue sauce and a side. Get the creamy potato salad, if it’s available.

The Kansas City region has more than 100 barbecue restaurants, but this is the only one where barbecue is available at the push of a button.

Know Before You Go

The refrigerated vending machine is stocked before the restaurant opens with fresh barbecue. The whole lineup won’t be available if you’re arriving at the end of the night, but you’ll usually have a few options. Bring a credit card because the machine doesn’t take cash. The sandwiches are served cold, but are ready to eat after 30 seconds in a microwave.

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May 6, 2020

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