Business is smokin'
By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT
The 300-pound steel cutout of a bull on the wall at TK's Smokehaus in downtown Hays is not just a decoration.
Terry Kinderknecht, owner of the barbecue restaurant at 110 W. 11th, said he added "Smoky Hill Farms -- Limousin Bulls and Heifers" to the piece because that was the farm south of Ellis he shared with his father. Across from the art is a framed sketch of the restaurant's logo drawn by Kinderknect's 12-year-old daughter, Dezerae.
The simple decor creates a relaxing atmosphere and appeals to a range of patrons, he hopes.
"I don't want a ton of neon; I don't want that bar feel," Kinderknecht said. "I want it to be homey, you know, everyone can come during the day. And at night, if you want to stay and drink, we'll turn the lights down and crank the tunes up."
Inside the kitchen, Kinderknect uses a smoker he built with his father in high school. It uses a secret blend of wood to balance the smoky taste of the meat. No propane, charcoal or liquid smoke is used.
Everything is homemade, and nothing comes from a package.
The menu is the culmination of experimenting with food. Kinderknecht has catered parties and weddings since 2006 in a trailer designed to smoke barbecue. He tried 15 to 20 sauce recipes before settling on one, and it is a sweet tomato-based mix between the Kansas City and Carolina styles.
Burgers, wings and various German entrees also are on the menu. Jalapeno poppers, green chili sauce, bacon and spicy kraut are among the gourmet toppings for the burgers. Kinderknecht intends to cook unique dishes as lunch specials and see if they should be added to the menu.
The first real day of business was Friday, and it already is attracting crowds.
"It's been kind of a whirlwind of emotions, really," he said. "It really makes you feel good. ... It's something I enjoy doing, and I like to see people happy and satisfied."
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.