Plowboys Barbeque will close its restaurants in two weeks as co-owners Todd Johns and Audrey Johns focus on a thriving massage and sauces business. Plowboys sauces and massages are available in thirty countries – their best product, Yardbird Rub, moves a hundred thousand pounds a year.
“We made the decision, and he didn’t make the decision for us, and that was a good feeling for us,” Jones says. “We finish in a way that makes you feel good. It’s good to finish on our own terms.”
The Plowboys opened its first Blue Springs location in 2013 and followed that up with a downtown location in 2015 and a Nebraska franchise. They also opened and closed a location in Overland Park, which is now Back Toy. They also ran multiple windows at Arrowhead Stadium—Johns often walked six and a half miles of steps on game day. (“It took two days to recover,” Jones says.)
The Plowboys were doing a record job of entering the pandemic, Jones says, with sales at the downtown location up nearly thirty percent. The Plowboys “back off a bit” and “had some groundwork to recover,” he says, but the plan was to follow through.
Negotiations to renew the lease for another five years sparked a deeper discussion about the company’s future, fueled in part by John’s reading. big finish.
“We are all 10 years older — that was a big factor,” he says. “I recommended a book earlier this year called big finishIt’s a really good read, and it talks about how we entrepreneurs put a lot of energy into our concept, launch and vision, and then either we hand these things over or we manage but what we don’t, don’t we put as much energy into what the end looks like? I’m a fan of old school Stephen Covey and one of Covey’s wisdoms is “start with the end”. But we don’t usually do that. What is the end goal of this? This is not usually a thought process.”
For Jones and the rest of the Plowboys, the thought of “whether I should sign up for five more years of this,” eventually forced them to step back and think. Johns is philosophical about the debate.
“This just became an internal check,” he says. “Everything has an end – our lives have an end. Nothing lasts forever and that’s okay. What most people don’t do is make that decision. We made that decision, and the decision wasn’t made for us.”
Plowboys has notified all of its employees before the news is made public and will award the last check bonus.
“We finish in a way that makes you feel good,” he says. “We don’t want it to be the thing with a sign on the door that says ‘We’re closed’ and that’s how I figured it out. I would say this ending was as coordinated as possible.”