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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

ORAL HISTORY

Leroy “Spooney” Kenter, Jr.


Leroy "Spooney" Kenter

Leroy Kenter, Jr., better known as “Spooney,” started cooking barbecue in Kansas City, Kansas. When he returned home to his native Greenwood, he knew he wanted to have his own place and make a name for his own brand of ‘cue and sauce. He started out with a smoker in his mother’s yard. In 1996 he moved his business to a narrow storefront on Johnson Street in downtown Greenwood. In 2009 Spooney decided to downsize and dragged his smoker back to the old neighborhood and set it in front of his house in Greenwood’s historic Baptist Town.

Part of the secret to Spooney’s success is his sauce, the recipe for which came to him after his first wife left him. The story is that Spooney sat at home alone, staring at the walls for days upon days. Then one day his eye caught the image of the crock-pot sitting on the kitchen counter. Then some ketchup. And then his mind started swimming with secrets and spices, culminating in his homemade sauce that was inspired by heartache. This man’s barbecued ribs really will make you cry.

*The interview featured below was conducted in 2003 when Spooney was still working out of his Johnson Street location. He moved his business to Baptist Town in 2009.

Date of interview:
2003-08-09 00:00

Interviewer:
Amy C. Evans

Photographer:
Amy C. Evans

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