Kansas City Knows BBQ!!

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Kansas City, Missouri BBQ

There are many areas of the country where you can find great barbecue, but there’s something special about Kansas City.

One of the reasons Kansas City stands out is the high concentration of amazing barbecue restaurants we have in a relatively small area. Today, there are over 100 area barbecue establishments, each boasting its personal house specialty – ribs, pork, ham, mutton, sausage and even fish.

But few people know that the Kansas City barbecue tradition actually started with a man named Henry Perry in the 1920’s. Perry had a stand in downtown Kansas City where he served smoked meats to nearby workers. Using an outdoor pit, the man who is simply known today as the “The Barbecue King,” sold slow-smoked meats wrapped in newspaper for 25 cents in the Garment District.

Perry’s stand was an instant success and the barbecue trend quickly caught on. He later opened what many people believe was the first barbecue restaurant of its kind in North America. The restaurant, a converted trolley barn, quickly emerged as the city’s major cultural point during the 1920s and 30s.

Over a period of more than 100 years, the city generated its own style of barbecue, which is commonly known today as Kansas City barbecue. Often described as the “world’s barbecue capital,” Kansas City is home to large, well-attended barbecue cooking contests – the two most notable being in nearby Lenexa, Kansas and at the American Royal.

Barbecue in Kansas City is more than just a menu item or a method of preparation. It’s an institution, rich with history and culinary tradition that has shaped the city’s dining landscape since the early 1900s. For decades, visitors from across the globe have traveled here, drawn by the smoky aroma, just to get a sample of KC’s acclaimed cuisine.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City Missorui

Life is Better in Kansas City

I’ve lived in Kansas City, Missouri for my entire life. While I’ve spent extensive amounts of time traveling abroad, I always find myself happy to come back to this beautiful city with its rich culture and history.

Here are few reasons why I think Kansas City is such a special place:

City of Fountains

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Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City has over 200 stunning fountains within its city limits. This distinction places it as the 2nd city in the world with the most fountains, just behind Rome, Italy.

The city is also commonly referred to as the “Heart of America” due to its close proximity to the geographic center of the United States. And while this may be the obvious underlying point in the name, this really sums how residents here truly feel about their home.

Aside from the numerous fountains, there are other unique designs that give Kansas City a unique charm. Renowned fixtures like the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Kansas City Star Building give the downtown area a contemporary feel with their striking features – while the historic New York Life Building remains a tribute to the city’s rich past.

There are also a slew of tremendous museums and attractions to visit across the city, such as the National WWI Museum and Memorial, the American Jazz Museum, and the famous Kansas City Zoo. Of course, we also have the Kansas City Chiefs and the Royals for our second-to-none sports fans.

Whatever your personal style or interests, this town has it all.

The Full Menu

Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City has some of the best restaurants in the nation, with more barbeque restaurants per capita than any other city. And while the historic connection between the Missouri city and BBQ is well documented, there are tons of amazing options for residents and visitors.

Eddie V’s Prime Seafood is an exquisite upscale seafood establishment that provides the best cuisine of the sea along with nightly jazz. In addition, there’s the distinctive Austrian restaurant, Grunauer, paying homage to the immigrants who helped settle the area in the 19th century.

My personal favorite would have to be Bluestem. Winning a James Beard award in 2013 – this restaurant is the epitome of fine dining. From the moody atmosphere to the decadent seven-course menu, this place is an unconditional must if you’re in the Kansas City area.

A Balanced Life

Ultimately, Kansas City is about balance. It’s a vibrant world-class destination that attracts educated, driven people who like the bustle of a large metro area. But the city also holds on to its Midwestern values that set it apart from cities on the East and West coasts. And Kansas City is a place where you can truly enjoy life and experience everything without feeling rushed or frustrated by traffic.

For me – and the half-a-million people who live here – it’s absolutely perfect.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City Missouri

Travel: Notes on Italia

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Over the past two years, I have been fortunate enough to travel to many different extraordinary destinations. From the lesser known coastal towns of the Balkans to the ancient cities of the Middle East – I’ve seen a lot outside of Kansas City.

One of the most distinct places that immediately comes to mind has to be Italy. With the ruins of the Colosseum and the timeless cathedrals, Italy can be described as truly atmospheric. And while sites like the Vatican and the Trevi Fountain are packed with tourists, they are absolutely mandatory for visitors…at least once.

Second-to-None Cuisine and Sightseeing

After sightseeing and observing the differences in cultures, trying new foods has to be one of my favorite things about traveling – and what is Italy known for if not their beloved food? It’s a cuisine that has been carefully perfected and preserved over centuries. Their attention and attitudes toward quality is astounding and drastically different than typical restaurants that you would find in Kansas City, or the U.S. in general. It’s a quality that Italian chefs take great pride in.

The first thing you’ll notice about authentic Italian cuisine is that it isn’t all pizzas and pastas. Sure, those are classic staples, but Italian dishes outside of the states consist of vegetables, rice, and seafood. The carb-heavy American approach to Italian food is far from a true representation of the Mediterranean peninsula.

Also, in Italy, less is more. They focus on quality, taste and nourishment as opposed to how much they can put onto a plate. There’s a reason why the Italian island of Sardinia is included in the areas labeled as “Blue Zones,” where people live far longer and healthier lives.

In addition to the variety of foods, Italy is incredibly diverse from region to region. There’s an ocean of difference between the rolling green hills of Tuscany’s wine country and the sun-kissed villages along the Amalfi coast. Milan is often regarded as the fashion capital of the world. Florence is known for its rich history and artists. Venice, of course, is a town largely built on sunken streets and this time of year is filled with tourists who line up to travel the canals by gondola.

No matter where you go in Italy, it’s fascinating to see how a relatively small country can be so unique from town to town.

Hold the Phone

Finally, one last note for those thinking of visiting Italy:

Like with all traveling, what is it that we remember most? It’s not the hotels, the photos on our phones or the t-shirts from famous hotspots. It’s the raw experiences and memories. Italy is a beautiful place with many things to see and do. My advice to anyone thinking of visiting is to take your time and avoid the luring “comforts” of modern traveling.

I enjoy nice hotels and attractions as much as the next person, but they can detract from the experience if you’re not careful.

It’s okay to go without Wi-Fi for just a moment, to get out and enjoy the many offerings of one of Europe’s most historic places. Don’t just try to cram in all of the tourist attractions and destination. Maybe take a walk off of the beaten path or two.

The whole idea is to see and do things that take you out of your average day and the mindset of passive consumption.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, MO

Welcome!

by Michael Gortenburg, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)

Welcome to the blog!

My name is Michael Gortenburg and I’d like to welcome you to my new blog.

This is the first post in what will be a collection of insights from a lifetime spent as an entrepreneur, businessman, investor and real estate enthusiast.

I also hope to share a little about myself and the lessons I’ve learned over the course of my career.

I’m just getting started, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Cheers,
Michael