Kansas City, MO

The history of Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue has come a long way since it landed in Martin City

CJ Coombs

In the beginning

My experience began with the Smoke Stack Barbecue restaurant that was owned by the Fiorella family. It's in the fourth generation of serving some of the best barbecue my family had.

Russell ("Russ") Fiorella (b. June 11, 1912, d. Aug. 19, 1986) and his wife Flora (b. June 26, 1919, d. May 24, 2008) founded the first Smoke Stack Barbecue in 1957. Together, they had seven children.

Russ, a son of Italian immigrants, grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Kansas City. He was one of 14 children. He worked as a butcher in a small grocery store he ran. Even then, he loved to barbecue meats. When larger grocery chains grew, the smaller local stores couldn't survive. You see that happen now.

Russ purchased what used to be The Lucky Inn in south Kansas City. He called it Smoke Stack BBQ. To make his plan work, he had to sell their home and move into the apartment that sat above the restaurant. The business did well and by the time his seventh child was born in 1963, his family moved to a large home.

After overcoming a 1966 fire, the restaurant was rebuilt. In the early 1970s, Russ helped three children open their own Smoke Stack locations. Son, Jack, opened his location next to Jess & Jim's Steakhouse. They did so well that in 1978, they moved to the current location at 135th and Holmes Road.

Jack opened another restaurant called Hatfield and McCoys in Overland Park, Kansas but challenges in the early 1980s caused it to close. Jack returned to the Martin City restaurant. His wife added more items to the menu and they added more dining rooms.

After Russ passed away in1986, two of his daughters ran the original Smoke Stack. In 1999, it was closed. His wife, Flora, was still involved on the business side through the closing of that location. she passed away in 2008.

Name change and more success

Jack and his wife, Delores, expanded the business by opening the second restaurant in Overland Park in 1997, and they decided to change the name to Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue. My family has used that location for catering to personal events. Never disappointed and always something to look forward to.

Started by Russ Fiorella in Kansas City back in 1957, Jack Stack began as a traditional storefront barbecue stand with a modest selection of five to six items. Jack Fiorella, the eldest son, worked with his father until 1974, when he decided to branch off and start Fiorella's Jack Stack of Martin City. (Source.)

A third location was opened in the Freight House historic building in Kansas City near the Union Station which I've been to several times. The fourth location was opened in 2006 at the Country Club Plaza. In 2016, the fifth location opened in Lee's Summit, and I was happy to go there too.

In 2000, the growing operation started shipping its barbecue all over the country. The Food Network has the recipe for Jack Stack Barbecue Beans on its website (courtesy of Jack Stack Barbecue).

In 2009, Jack and Delores retired. They sold the company to their daughter, Jennifer, and her husband, Case Dorman who is the CEO of Jack Stack. Their son helps with the catering department.

In 2021, the latest Jack Stack Barbecue location opened in Lenexa, Kansas at Lenexa City Center.

Today, Jack Stack Barbecue has evolved into the largest, full-service wood cookery in the industry. The restaurant has catered events all over the nation. It has won numerous awards and much recognition, both locally and nationally. (Source.)

Whichever location you decide to visit, you can rest assured the taste quality of the food is consistent and the service is friendly. Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue is a dream realized.

Thank you for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO
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