by David Mendez
We noted yesterday that Mr. K's Barbecue on Stone and River closed this weekend after little more than a year in operation.
Rhonda Kendrick, an owner of the business and daughter of Charles Kendrick (the eponymous Mr. K) was emotional when she told The Range about the restaurant's closure, which was caused by the folding of Ironwood Dining, the management company that oversaw the day-to-day operations of Mr. K's.
"It's hard," Kendrick said. "When this restaurant opened, you know, it caused a rift in the family with my brother Raymond (owner of the Original Mr. K's Barbecue, located at 6302 S. Park Ave.) that thankfully we've been able to heal."
The worst part is seeing the effect it had on her father and the restaurant's employees.
"We were able to build this, and to realize his dream, and to see it close like this hurts," she said. "Not just for my dad or me, but for our employees. They became family. We had an amazing team, so no matter where they go, they're going to be great. As a business owner, you affect people's lives and their families, and you want to make sure that they're taken care of."
She said her dad inspired her to open the restaurant.
"This was my dedication to him," she said. "I happy that he was able to see this come to life, and we're moving forward toward the future."
Richard Yellot of Ironwood Dining said the closure was "pretty much the same old story of business and economics. You can't run a business if you can't make a profit...and we couldn't make enough to keep the doors open. We tried, and I thought we had Tucson's best barbecue, but we just couldn't make enough money to make it work. … The person I feel the worst for is Mr. K himself. This was a dream of his, and even though it didn't turn out as well as we hoped, at least he got to have it for a little while."
Kendrick said that the restaurant will continue to honor its commitments, with help from her brother.
"I know that whatever struggles we had in the beginning, for our family, I want to direct all of our business to Raymond and I want for him to do well," she said.