Wib’s BBQ in Jackson, MO

Five Generations of Steinhoffs have eaten at Wib’s BBQ Drive-In

Jackson’s Wib’s BBQ Drive-in was born in 1947, the same year I was. I don’t think my parents took me straight from St. Francis Hospital in Cape to Wib’s, but my grandson, Malcolm, was still in diapers when he made his first pilgrimage to the Mecca of Meat.

When we were in Cape last fall, I managed to make four visits to the place, much to my mother’s chagrin. On the last visit, I ordered six Brown Hots to Fed-Ex back home to Son Matt, D-in-Law Sarah and Kid Malcolm.

Some folks have tried to pack them in dry ice, we’ve found that’s not necessary.

We pick up half a dozen Brown Hots, unwrap them until they cool down (to keep them from getting soggy), put each sandwich in an individual Ziploc bag, then Fed-Ex them overnight to. Heat ’em up and they’re good to go. Haven’t had anybody die on us yet….

We’re pretty sure that at least five generations of my family have eaten at Wib’s.

I spent more time at Wib’s than Wimpy’s

While most of my classmates were hanging out at Wimpy’s and Pfisters, I practically lived at Wib’s when I was working for The Jackson Pioneer in the mid-60s.

The sandwiches were cheap, the waitresses were cute and they made the best shakes in town. (Unfortunately, they quit making shakes several years ago and the wonderful homemade pies are history, too.)

The waitresses are still cute

Best of all, it was located just down the road from the newspaper and courthouse and almost right next to a small park with a municipal swimming pool that was a great source of wild art.

(Nah, Jackson wasn’t THAT wild. Wild art is newspaperspeak for pictures that can run without a story. Think cute kids and animals.)

What’s special about the BBQ?

I don’t know. My mother claims that no pigs are hurt in the making of the sandwiches, and I have to concede that they are a little light on meat.

On the other hand, what’s there is nicely smoked and touched off with a peppery sauce that doesn’t overwhelm the taste of the meat. If you order a Brown Hot (the brown, outside, smokier part of the shoulder) with hot sauce, you’d better have a drink handy.

Meat is hickory-smoked

A short history of Wib’s is printed on the back of the menu. It was founded by Wib Lohman, who had a trucking company. He started out selling barbecue sandwiches to his drivers.

The original smoker used hickory and nothing has changed.

I took this picture of a robin stealing string out of a mop propped up against a stack of Pepsi crates next to some of the hickory used for smoking the meat on April 13, 1967. The next day, The Missourian ran the photo (or one similar to it) with a long, nonsensical story that was uncharacterstic of the paper. (Follow the link at your own risk.)

The piece didn’t have a credit line, but I assure you that I did not write it.

I can only assume that

  • Editor John Blue was out of town.
  • It was an extremely slow news day.

Note that the Pepsi crates have “Capaha” printed on them. I wonder if that means that they were bottled in Cape or the surrounding area. I know Cape had a Coke bottling plant on Broadway, but I’m not sure about Pepsi.

The outside doesn’t look like much

It’s just a concrete block building painted white. There’s plenty of parking and a walk-up area on one side. The front door was always notoriously hard to open, but that was solved when a local teenager ran into the front of the building June 17, 2008, doing about $25,000 in damage.

He fessed up to his parents and restitution was made. The front windows were changed to deeper ones and the balky front door was replaced.

One wag remarked, “That poor kid will have to leave town. He’s going to be known as the boy who drove into Wib’s for the rest of his life.”

Wib sold Wib’s to the Hoffmeisters in 1948

Wib Lohman got tired of running a seven-day-a-week, 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. business and sold it to Jack and Sweetie Hoffmeister, who ran it until 1972, when it passed on to A.D. Hoffman.

The Hoffmans own it now

It stayed in the Hoffman family when A.D.’s son and his wife took it over in 1986.

Wib’s opens at 8:30 a.m. (mostly for coffee drinkers; they usually sell less than 10 sandwiches before 11 a.m.) and stays open until 6:45 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Saturday they’re open 9 – 6:45. They’re closed Sundays and Mondays.

Prime time is the lunch rush when about 300 sandwiches are served.

Wib’s has a Facebook Fan Page

In the Old Days, the place had four car hops to handle drive-up orders. These days, if you don’t want to eat inside,  you can go inside to a walk-up window to place your to-go order.

Every kid in Jackson must have worked there at one time or another. Many started in high school and continued through college. At least one couple met while working at Wib’s and the proposal took place in the parking lot.

Wib’s even has a Facebook Fan area with over 800 members.

23 Replies to “Wib’s BBQ in Jackson, MO”

  1. That has to be one of the most painful pieces of drivel I’ve ever had the misfortune to attempt to read. I noticed there is no byline–guess the guilty needed to be protected.

    Re: Capaha on wooden Pepsi cases
    There was a Capaha Bottling Co. in Cape until it was sold to an Illinois Pepsi bottler in 1969. (Google Capaha Bottling)

  2. Bill,

    That’s why I disavowed all involvement with it. The whole whole piece was written just so it could get in the last sentence, which referenced a play at SEMO.

    I was pragmatic enough not to care what kind of words surrounded my photo as long as the words Pay to the Order of showed up at the end of the month. $5 was $5.

  3. Ken…I love your article/photos about Wib’s! It’s a family favorite of ours. With your influence, would you please get them to change their sign outside proclaiming: “Closed Sunday’s”???? Thanks from the Hopkins clan.

  4. Better yet, see if you can get them to open a Wibs in Jupiter, Florida. We are lacking a good place to eat lunch near the office.

    Also, hurry up and get to Cape so you can overnight me some Wibs. Thanks!


  5. Kid,

    I think it cost $40 to overnight your last batch, not including the sandwiches. I’m going to have to re-evaluate your worth.

    Have Sarah ask and it’ll be a slam-dunk. BTW happy 10th Anniversary. Sarah’s the daughter-in-law that every parent wants their son to bring home. (Ditto Carly for Adam.)

  6. Ken

    How about older posts? The 50’s. I know you were not picture taking then but the 50’s was a really great decade!

    Also, how about info on other Cape Girardeau HS’s, like College High and St. Mary??

    Reason for asking? I am a College High graduate, 1951, but had many and great friends from Central; and I married a girl from St. Mary High.

    Also, Ken, you and I are friends on FB.

    Two great websites are this one and Pavement Ends. Both are great historical “treasures.”

  7. My family never went to Wibs, but we did periodically made the pilgrimage to Dexter for ribs. Now that Dexter’s has opened a restaurant in Cape I always make it there for lunch when I’m in town. I usually order the pulled pork sandwich. I haven’t gone so far as to Fed Ex meet back to Oregon, but I did buy several bottles of their BBQ sauce to tote home, thinking it was a secret recipe. Then a girlfriend’s daughter who worked there told me it was just Bull’s Eye BBQ sauce that they poured into a bottle with the Dexter’s logo on it!

  8. When i was home last summer i made a stop at wibs just to grab there honest-to-goodness homemade pies and milkshake. I hope there’s a Wibs at my place where I’m currently staying. It just that it feels like home when I ate at Wibs since it’s a family favorite of ours.

    1. If you stopped at Wib’s for their honest-to-goodness homemade pies, you were a couple of decades too late. And, I think it’s been at least 10 years since they stopped serving milkshakes.

      There won’t be a Wib’s at the place you’re currently staying, because there’s only one Wib’s in the world and it’s in the same place it’s been since 1947.

      But, the program you use for sending spam is much better than average. It sounded almost like a real comment.

      (If you’re not a spammer, my apologies.)

  9. My parents started going to Wib’s when they were a young married couple in the late 50’s. My grandparents lived in Sikeston and Doniphan. It was always something we looked forward to on our trips… our stop at Wib’s. I have always hated the fact that they are closed on Sunday and Monday, though, because a lot of the time that is when we were traveling home. I am now married and live in Illinois and my husband and kids have made several trips to Wib’s. In fact, when our son was needing hours for driver’s ed, we up and let him drive us all to Jackson for Wib’s BBQ which added 4.5 hours to his drive time. If ANY of our family goes that direction, they stop at Wib’s and if some of us aren’t there they bring some sandwiches home to us… they are awesome when you reheat them in a skillet or on a George Foreman grill. Hopefully in a couple of years we can introduce our next generation to the famous Wib’s BBQ!!!

  10. Hey D, it’s your cousin Steve. Phyllis and I will be in Cape 6/25-6/29. Was planning on taking Mom and your mom over to see Jupe either Tuesday or Thursday and would love to have you tag along is possible. If not, we’ll look you up one day.

  11. I was the first carhop at Wib’s Drive-In when Jack Hoffmeister bought it in 1948. Bob Friedrics and I had a fireworks stand next to the restaurant and when Jack took over he offered me a job. I worked with Charley Vickery. When we started we got $0.35 an hour and all the sandwiches we could eat. Within a week, Jack changed that to $0.45 per hour with a limit of three sandwiches per s day because he said we would eat him into bankruptcy otherwise.

    I saved all my tips in a gallon jar and used that to buy the engagement ring for Shirley Sander from Gordonville in 1953. We have been happily married now for 58 years.

  12. I was the first carhop at Wib’s Drive-In when Jack Hoffmeister bought it in 1948. Bob Friedrics and I had a fireworks stand next to the restaurant and when Jack took over he offered me a job. I worked with Charley Vickery. When we started we got $0.35 an hour and all the sandwiches we could eat. Within a week, Jack changed that to $0.45 per hour with a limit of three sandwiches per day because he said we would eat him into bankruptcy otherwise.

    I saved all my tips in a gallon jar and used that to buy the engagement ring for Shirley Sander from Gordonville in 1953. We have been happily married now for 58 years.

    1. Great story. By limiting your sandwich consumption, Wib’s has been able to get by with buying only three pigs since it opening in 1947.

      I love their sandwiches and sauce, but I swear they just barely run a pig by them. I called a server over one time and said, “Someone must have made a mistake in the kitchen: this sandwich has some meat on it.”

  13. On you question about Capaha on the soda cases, They were in fact from Cape. Capaha bottling was owned by “Moon” Baker, amd bottled Pepsi, Mt. Dew, Dr. pepper, and Crush flavors. Was in there a lot, my older brother was a route driver form them. in the late 60’s

  14. I’m a JHS grad from early sixties. Wibs combinations are the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten.
    Would pay almost anything for similar if we had something in the Memphis area.

  15. Love them sandwiches. Live in Baton Rouge now, but always stop at wibb’s when I go back to Cape. Grad from the class of 65 at Central. Wish I could order and get the meat on line, delivered to Baton Rouge. Love the bbq, best in the world.

  16. Every summer when my parents drove me and my two brothers from St.Louis to TN, we would stop on the way down and back at Wib’s. I have always loved the BBQ pork sandwiches and when ever I am close to Jackson MO I stop in, a 53 year tradition for me and my family. On the way to Dallas today and my first stop will be Wib’s

  17. Ahhh… Does Wib’s bring back memories. Back in the day, ca 1968, they had unquestionably the best barbeque I have eaten. If memory serves correctly, 35 cents per sandwich. I worked on a survey crew back then for the MO. State highway Dept, and we would usually go there for lunch if we were close to Jackson. As Ken remarked, I have heard the amount of meat per sandwich has decreased, but I would pay almost anything for a sandwich made like they were 50+ years ago.

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