The crew from Billy’s Blue Duck Bar-B-Q displays the award from Where the Locals Eat, a national restaurant guide that recently recognized the Liberal eatery as one of the best in the state of Kansas. Liberal Chamber Director Rozelle Webb, second from right, congratulates owner Bill Hill, far right. Daily Leader photo/Robert Pierce
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
The winning duck in next Saturday’s Duck Race Festival at Blue Bonnet Park will win $6,000.
In 2003, a Liberal man took home the prize bird, along with $8,000, and he used the money as a starting point of opening what has now become a nationally-recognized restaurant.
Where the Locals Eat, a guide to the best restaurants in America, recently recognized Billy’s Blue Duck Bar-B-Q as one of the top eateries in the state of Kansas.
“They’re just independent people, freelance people,” owner Bill Hill said. “These guys go all over, and what they do is try to find unique little restaurants and rate them. I don’t know how they did it, but they picked us.”
Billy’s is now listed on the group’s Web site, www.wherethelocalseat.com, and Hill said the group also publishes articles about restaurants in travel magazine.
“They’re hooked in with all kinds of stuff,” he said.
Hill said he used the $8,000 from the 2003 duck race to buy a charcoal cooker.
“From there, we were doing cooking for people,” he said referring to his family. “The duck that we won the duck race with, and we won $8,000 that day, was a blue duck, so Blue Duck Bar-B-Q came about by that. We’ve won some money three or four times, and everyone of them’s been a blue duck I think.”
When Hill’s daughter, Karen, married Darrell “Woody” Guffy, Hill said Woody wanted to get into the restaurant business. The opportunity for a barbecue joint came about with the closing of the former KC’s Sports Pub in north Liberal.
“That area was there, and since then, it’s just grown and grown,” Hill said.
Hill said officials with Where the Locals Eat came to Billy’s to see what the restaurant had and ate. He said they talked about the good barbecue and Mexican food served, but one dish in particular caught their attention.
“Those people found out the highlight was the Big Woody, the hot dog we actually named after Woody,” he said.
Hill explained the difference between the Woody and regular hot dogs.
“We didn’t want a little hot dog. We wanted a footlong hot dog. We didn’t just want a footlong hot dog. We wanted the bigger ones. We checked around. The hot dog idea came around because we had so many people come around with kids that wanted hot dogs. We decided we would fry the hot dog. That’s what caught their eye. It’s a fried hot dog wrapped in a tortilla shell with chili and cheese. We didn’t want buns, and Woody makes homemade chili every day. We have two sizes – a small and a big. We named it after him.”
Billy’s was the only eatery recognized in Kansas west of Wichita, and Liberal was the town with a population of less than 40,000 in the state listed.
“To me, it’s a great big pat on the back to how hard they all work to put something together for everybody and have the community support it,” Hill said.
When he heard the news, Hill said he was unsure of how to react
“We’ve never had anything like that,” he said. “It’s a big honor to me. Whether it turns into a TV show or a magazine article or just a little news write up in the Daily Leader, it’s a big honor and not just local.”
Hill said people from all over the country have been coming to Billy’s since its opening.
“We’ve got folks down in Texas, Perryton, Stinnett, Booker and in Dodge City,” he said. “We’ve got people that travel from Phoenix to Minnesota, and they stop. They come here, and they’ll stay for an hour or two right here. They stay at the motel. They say ‘We used to drive on through, but now, we found Billy’s, and we want to stop at Billy’s.’ It’s just neat to hear people talk about it.”
The Where The Locals Eat group recognizes restaurants from all over the country. Hill said he does not know how many received recognition, but every state is listed on the Web site.
Liberal Chamber of Commerce Director Rozelle Webb said having a local restaurant recognized nationally is significant.
“This is a great honor for Bill and the crew,” she said. “It’s great for Liberal, and I’m just real proud he’s a Chamber business. He started it through the duck race, and I think that’s a great way to celebrate this award.”
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