April 23, 2022

By Jessica Brown & Tribune Staff

At 9:58 a.m. on April 15, the owners of Summit Hickory’s Pit made a surprise announcement that the Lee’s Summit restaurant would be closing its doors for good at the end of that day.

The bittersweet announcement led to an unexpected day-long rush as customers ordered favorites for lunch or dinner.

The restaurant was so busy that last day they did something they’d never done before. They closed the doors from 2:00-4:00 p.m. to take time to restock and give employees a break.

Katy and her husband Mike Ghani opened the restaurant in 1992 in a building off Rice Road, now home to Minsky’s. Five years later, Mike drew up floor plans for the building that has become a community favorite for the last 25 years. Their now daughter-in-law, Genia Birchfield, became part of the restaurant’s family as one of its very first applicants.

Katy and Mike didn’t make the decision to close lightly, and they didn’t make the decision because business was bad. In fact, it was the opposite. “We didn’t want to still be open and not be able to give 100 percent for customer service, for food products, for just maintaining and keeping everything afloat. We wanted everything to be top notch still,” Katy said.

Katy and Mike had been discussing retirement for a few years with hopes of keeping the restaurant but letting it sustain itself. Like many other restaurants, though, the COVID-19 pandemic caused staff shortages, and they’ve been operating at two thirds normal staff the last two years.

“[We’re looking forward to] retirement. Mike’s going to build, and I’m just going to be his assistant with design and creativity. We’re just going to take our time and relax a little bit,” Katy said.

Katy and Genia will be sharing their recipes for signature items and drinks, appetizers, all the specials, originals, food items, and desserts in a memorable cookbook with a few other tidbits in it too.

“So many people said, ‘We need the bread pudding recipe! We need the beans recipe!’” Katy said. “They’ll just have to wait for the cookbook to come out. They need to be cooking their own barbecue and creating their own memories in the backyard, get their husbands set up and get their little pit going.”

Their vision for the cookbook started a long time ago when they were just thinking about retirement. They plan to have it out some time in 2022, and all profits will go to benefit local charities.

“How fortunate we were to be able to touch so many people’s lives and memories and be able to be a part of their story. Their impact on us was so amazing that it will never be forgotten,” Genia said.

Mike, Katy, with son, Allen, his wife Genia, and their daughter Bailey, and all of the SHP employees thank the Lee’s Summit community for 30 years of love and support.

Jessica Brown (formerly Root) is a former intern reporter for the Lee’s Summit Tribune and a former employee at Summit Hickory Pit BBQ. She now advises Lee’s Summit North High School’s yearbook, Aurora, and teaches freshman English Language Arts.