Background: Tim Keegan has been with Jack Stack Barbecue for over 18 years. Before joining our Jack Stack Barbecue family, Tim was a staple in his family’s business. Starting at age 6, Tim would stand on a milk crate and wash dishes for his family’s restaurant, Snead’s BBQ. In 1977, his family opened Keegan’s BBQ in Martin City. Tim spent the next years honing his technique in front of the pit, when he took over Keegan’s BBQ in 1986. Tim had such a passion for the “science” of barbecuing that he worked the Pit almost every day until Keegan’s BBQ closed in 1994. In 1997, Tim had a desire to get back into the barbecue restaurant scene when he reached out to Case, the manager of Martin City at the time, where he was hired on the spot! He has only had one job outside of the barbecue business, and says “I guess this is where I was supposed to be” and aren’t we glad he is!

Tim Keegan - Head Pitmaster

Tim Keegan - Head Pitmaster

Favorite Menu Item: Tim’s perfect Jack Stack Barbecue meal starts with the Barbecue Shrimp Appetizer. Following his appetizer, he can’t go wrong with the Barbecue Combo with Beef Burnt Ends and Baby Back Ribs and our signature sides, Hickory Pit Beans and Cheesy Corn Bake. To finish it off, Tim says he has to indulge with Mom’s Carrot Cake.

Tip for At-Home Pit Masters: “Start small with chicken and pork butt and make sure you always start with a high grade, quality piece of meat. You can experiment with different woods: hickory, oak, pecan, apple and mesquite. Try many different rubs and sauces. Most important, keep good records of time and temperatures so you don’t keep making the same mistake twice. And keep in mind that over smoking a product is much worse than under smoking it.”

Fun Fact: Even though Tim Keegan, our Head Pit Master, lives and breathes barbecue, when we asked him, “If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?” He said, “Lasagna” and not just any old lasagna, it must be either his Mom’s recipe or from Jovito’s Italian Café. Another Fun Fact: Jovito’s Italian Café is owned by Leasa Carson, who is actually Jack Fiorella’s Sister-in-Law.


Background: When Tommy first applied to work for Jack Stack Barbecue in 1992, we turned him down! Luckily, Tommy had the persistence to gain restaurant experience at Bennigan’s, then apply again in 1995 and thank goodness he did! Tommy, our Martin City Pit Master, is currently the most tenured Pit Master at Jack Stack Barbecue. He started his career in Martin City as a line cook, but his management team quickly saw his potential and moved him into full time pit in July of 1996. After hard work, dedication, and practice, he became a Pit Master. It has been 22 years and he still calls Martin City his home.

Favorite Menu Item: Tommy Kupczyk is an outstanding Pit Master who spends 40+ hours a week smoking our barbecue meats, some of his favorites being Beef Brisket and Pulled Pork. But, when we asked him “What is your favorite menu item?” He said, “Hickory Grilled Salmon and a side of broccoli with roasted garlic butter.”

Tip for At-Home Pit Master: “The slower the better, never rush.”

Fun Fact: One of his favorite memories while working was in 1996, when Joe Montana came to the expo window to compliment him on a job well done!

Tommy Kupczyk - Martin City Pitmaster
Juan Beltran - Overland Park Pitmaster


Background: Juan started his restaurant career at American Bandstand and Bristol. He had a desire to move away from the Bar & Grill scene and into one of Kansas City’s favorite activities… Barbecue. Juan has worked at Jack Stack Barbecue for almost 19 years. He started out on the kitchen line, moved to carryout, then to the grill and finally to pit in 2001. After working under Chris Dorman for 13 years, Juan says about his mentor “Chris Dorman taught me everything about barbecue. After years of following his technique and his work ethic, he retired in 2013. And I was given the opportunity to be Overland Park’s Pit Master. This is work that I perform with much pride!”

Favorite Menu Item: Even after a long shift of working on the Pit all day Juan’s favorite menu item is the Barbecue Combo with Beef Burnt Ends and Baby Back Ribs. He swears, “The meats taste even better knowing how much hard work goes into creating them.”

Tip for At-Home Pit Master: “Patience is the key to successfully smoking meats. My personal trick is putting Brisket at the top of the smoker so the drippings add flavor to the other meats and pit beans.”

Fun Fact: Juan Beltran is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. Juan’s favorite thing to cook at home is Carne Asada, which is a Mexican version of barbecue.


Background: Matt has been in the restaurant industry since age 15 and part of our Jack Stack Barbecue team for 9 years; he has worked his way up from the kitchen line and carryout to now being the head Pit Master at our Freight House location! Being a Pit Master isn’t an easy task, Matt shared that he wakes up every morning at 2:30am to head to the restaurant and start smoking the meat. He has honed his skills as a Pit Master with dedication, commitment and practice!

Favorite Menu Item: Matt’s favorite barbecue meat to smoke and eat are the Pork Spare Ribs. These ribs can be challenging to smoke consistently and Matt enjoys the challenge of ensuring they are smoked to perfection, every time.

Tip for At-Home Pit Master: “Find out what works for you. Don’t be afraid of experimenting. And most important, practice.”

Fun Fact: Matt’s favorite hobby is playing the drums and guitar. He started out at age 13 playing the guitar and picked up drums in his early 20s. Currently he is the drummer and backup singer for a local Kansas City band called Forgotten Souls.

Matt Drummond - Freight House Pitmaster
Gary Kirkpatrick - Plaza Pitmaster


Background: Before joining our Jack Stack Barbecue team, Gary worked at the Overland Park Houston’s as the grill cook for 20 years. In 2002, Gary started out at our Overland Park location on the grill and then helped open the Country Club Plaza location in 2006. For the last 11 years, Gary has called our Plaza location his home! His favorite memory at Jack Stack Barbecue is when he was promoted to Pit Master in 2006. He says, “It takes hard work, lots of focus and good teachers, which I had. You learn every day to make yourself better.”

Favorite Menu Item: Gary’s favorite meat to smoke and eat are the Pork Spare Ribs. He enjoys the rich flavor, fall off the bone tenderness and how juicy they still are after smoking for 4 to 6 hours.

Tip for At-Home Pit Master: “Low heat, don’t rush what you’re cooking. Great food takes time.”

Fun Fact: Gary is Kansas City born and raised. He is a die-hard Royals and KU fan, but then he shares his NFL love between the Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers. He says, “Brett Favre is the best quarter back of all time”.


Background: Josh’s start in barbecue isn’t as straight as our other Pit Masters, in fact he comes from a background in construction. In a hope to switch industries, he applied at Jack Stack Barbecue in 2004 and started at Overland Park part time as a dish washer and on the kitchen line. He worked his way up to carryout, grill, pit to finally became a Pit Master at the Freight House in 2014. Two years ago, Josh helped our team open our newest store in Lee’s Summit and still calls this location his home. Josh says, “My favorite part of being a Pit Master is seeing the smiles and gratification when guests enjoy eating the food I made.”

Favorite Menu Item: Josh’s favorite menu item is one that has been around since 1957, used to be called the 69er and now called the Jack Stack Sandwich. He says, “Sliced Beef Brisket and Polish Sausage is the perfect combination.”

Tip for At-Home Pit Master: Josh just has one simple word of advice “patience.”

Fun Fact: Josh enjoys being in the kitchen, even after a day of hard work. Josh’s favorite dish to cook is his Chicken Alfredo. He says, “Alfredo is like cooking barbecue, take you time to make it right.”

Josh Broderick - Lee's Summit Pitmaster