The heart of Plowboys BBQ is competition-style barbecue. It began in 2001 when Todd Johns and his brother-in-law, Randy Hinck, started Pork Pullin Plowboys, their competition team. For the next six years, Todd and Randy would travel all over the country, participating in competitions, perfecting their craft and learning what makes truly great barbecue. Hint: It’s all about the “low and slow.”
2007 was a big year for the Pork Pullin Plowboys. They won their first Grand Championship in Kearney, MO and were named the Show Me State Team of the Year. Todd also began selling his Yardbird Rub, an award-winning blend of spices that balanced sweet and salty with a bit of heat.
2008 introduced a new spice rub, Bovine Bold, and a series of wins. Plowboys won 1st Place Pork at the Great American BBQ Contest. They also participated in the American Royal Invitational World Series of Barbecue for the first time and took home 1st Place Pork! The year finished with Plowboys placing fifth in the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) Pork Team of the Year.
There’s a period of time for every great competition barbecue team where everything clicks. The recipes are perfect, the barbecue is mouthwateringly delicious to every bite and the awards start coming fast and thick. That was 2009 for Todd and Randy. It involved 22 KCBS-sanctioned competitions in seven states and five championship wins. The most sensational moment of 2009 was when Plowboys returned to the American Royal Invitational. After placing 5th in Chicken, 8th in Pork and 1st in Brisket, Todd was crowned the American Royal Grand Champion.
After winning the most important and respected barbecue competition in the world, Todd and Randy continued to compete and win contests over the next two years. In 2010, Plowboys returned to the American Royal, placing 8th in the Invitational, 5th out of 503 teams in the Open and winning 2nd in Open Chicken. After placing in the top ten of the 2011 American Royal Invitational, Todd released his third rub, Fin & Feather.
Two sauces, Sweet 180 and En Fuego, followed in 2012. Sweet 180 takes its name from the perfect 180-point score it helped chicken receive the first time the sauce was used in competition. En Fuego is described by Todd as the “kicked-up cousin of Sweet 180…starting sweet and ending sassy.”
In September of 2013, after over a decade of competitive barbecue, Todd opened Plowboys BBQ in Blue Springs, MO.
The Travel Channel’s BBQ Crawl show featured the restaurant in 2014 and The Pitch awarded Plowboys with Best Burnt Ends in KC.
2015 continued the restaurant’s success with an additional location opened in downtown Kansas City, MO. In the last couple of years Plowboys became famous for it’s BBQ nachos, a knockout combination of freshly fried tortilla chips, sour cream, jalapenos, cheese sauce made in-house and (of course) slow-smoked pulled pork or brisket. The Pitch awarded it runner-up for “Best Only-in-KC BBQ Dish” and INK Magazine listed it as one of the items on its “BBQ Bucket List” and “Best Things We Ate in 2015.”