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Greene anything but ‘green’ in an apron

 

Jerry Greene

Jerry Greene carefully inspects a slab of ribs after removing it from the grill inside his 400-gallon smoker.

 

by Rick Nichols
During the latter half of his 30-year career with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Jerry Greene did a fair amount of “grilling” as a detective for the agency, a role that enabled him to work closely with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and, to a lesser extent, the Federal Bureau of Investigation beginning in 2001.
These days, however, the closest Greene ever comes to “grilling” is when he positions large quantities of meat on the grill inside his custom-built smoker to eventually produce the primary component of the dinner plates he serves at The Broken Rib, the barbecue joint he opened earlier this year near Ozawkie.
Although Greene is new to the restaurant business, he brings to the venture roughly 35 years of experience as a barbecue cook. “I know how to cook ‘cause I was taught by the best,” he told the paper Friday afternoon as he fondly recalled the years during which he, his sister, Patty, and her husband, Steve Vasquez, competed in barbecue-cooking contests in the Kansas City, Mo., area with other BBQ enthusiasts as part of the “crowd” (my word) that ultimately formed the Kansas City Barbeque Society.
Greene, who retired from the Sheriff’s Office in October 2013 at the age of 57, said it was John King, owner of the Ozawkie Flea Market, who suggested to him that he ought to give some thought to the idea of starting a barbecue joint in an available space at the flea market complex. The necessary improvements (i.e., counters, refrigeration and a unisex restroom) to the space completed, The Broken Rib opened for business in mid-January, and so far so good. “I’ve been kind of surprised how much business we’ve done already,” he said. “I’m looking forward to better weather and more business.”
As for the name, credit a former colleague of Greene familiar with the pounding his body had taken over the years as a law enforcement officer who came up with it. Telling the story, Greene said that when he informed his former colleague that he was thinking about opening a BBQ joint, the man replied by saying, “If you’re involved, you’d better call it ‘The Broken Rib.’”
“He’s right on the money,” Greene acknowledged, grateful for the timely suggestion.
Open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, The Broken Rib is located just to the east of Perry Lake at 9392 K-92 Highway. The menu lists five dinner plates, pork loin, pulled pork, sliced beef brisket, Kansas City-style pork ribs and Kielbasa (i.e., Polish sausage), and includes Cowboy Stew, which is served with every dinner plate but can be ordered separately, in which case one can expect a larger bowl to be delivered to the table.
Greene said Cowboy Stew consists of smoked brisket and an assortment of vegetables.
For the younger set, Kids’ Specials (e.g., hot dogs and macaroni and cheese) are available.
Greene said he welcomes call-in orders and can accommodate requests for carry-out meals. He also said The Broken Rib is set up to do catering.
Handguns are equally welcome at the restaurant, which Greene describes as being “Second Amendment-friendly.” In fact, there is even a halfway humorous sign on the front door complete with a picture of a gun that says “Notice – Firearms welcome. Please keep all weapons holstered unless need arises. In such a case, judicious marksmanship is appreciated.”
Liquor, too, is welcome courtesy the bring-your-own-bottle arrangement, as Greene isn’t selling beer, much less anything stronger, on the premises. “I don’t want a saloon atmosphere,” he said, explaining his decision to avoid the alcohol, a decision based, at least in part, on his many years of experience in the field of law enforcement.
Greene’s business card identifies him as “the pitmaster,” but “the pitmaster” can only do so much, of course, which is where the rest of the Greene family — wife, Lori, and sons Tyler, 18, and Dylan, 14 — enter the picture. Also available to help with the operation are Lori’s parents, Rex and Cheryl Forbes.
But Greene’s sister and brother-in-law, who worked as a chef at Arrowhead Stadium for a number of years, are gone now. Still, he has the 400-gallon smoker designed by his brother-in-law to remember them by, the one he faithfully relies on to produce “specialty-smoked meats” that, as the menu puts it, have been “slow-smoked over select fruit woods.”
Among the fruit woods Greene likes to use to give his meats a distinctive aroma are apple, cherry, peach and pear. He also is somewhat partial to pecan wood. “We just do it (BBQ) old school,” he observed. “We don’t have any fancy gadgets. It works out better.”
Greene hopes to eventually build a small patio around the smoker where customers can gather on a Friday or Saturday night to do some cast iron cooking while enjoying a few “adult beverages,” as they say. In fact, he would like to see the BBQ joint, coupled with the presence of the nearby smoker, ultimately become a “destination” (his word), a special place people are willing to drive a long way to in order to have a one-of-a-kind experience they will long remember.
Additional information about The Broken Rib can be obtained to going to the restaurant’s website, www.thebrokenribbbq.com. The telephone number is 785-633-0171.

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