Henry Perry (restaurateur)

Henry Perry (Restaurateur)

Henry Perry (restaurateur)

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Henry Perry (1875 – March 22, 1940) was a restaurateur who is considered the "father of Kansas City barbecue."

Perry was born in Shelby County, Tennessee near Memphis and worked on steamboat restaurants on the Mississippi River and Missouri River before moving to Kansas City, Missouri in 1907. In 1908 he began serving smoked meats to workers in the Garment District in Downtown Kansas City from an alley stand.

He then moved his stand to 17th and Lydia in the famed inner city neighborhood of 18th Street and Vine.

He later moved a few blocks away within the neighborhood of 19th and Highland, where he operated out of an old trolley barn throughout the 1920s and 1930s when the neighborhood became famed for its Kansas City Jazz during the Tom Pendergast era.

Customers paid 25 cents for hot meat smoked over oak and hickory and wrapped in newsprint. Perry's sauce was described as "harsh, peppery" (rather than sweet). Perry’s menu included such barbecue standards of the day as beef and wild game such as possum, woodchuck, and raccoon.

At his death, Charlie Bryant took over the business; he, in turn, sold it to his brother Arthur, who made the sauce a little sweeter when he relocated the restaurant, Arthur Bryant's, to 1727 Brooklyn in the same neighborhood.

Also, Arthur Pinkard, who had worked for Perry, helped George Gates found Gates and Sons Bar-B-Q.


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