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The Golden Ox, A Piece of Kansas City's Cowtown Past, Set to Close

Peggy Lowe

The Golden Ox, once the center of the Kansas City Stockyards in Missouri and one of the oldest restaurants in the area, is set to close Saturday night.

The steakhouse, a kitschy mix of cowtown and commerce, has been busy for the past couple weeks, in response to word getting out that it was closing.

The West Bottoms restaurant has struggled attracting folks to the area, especially since Kemper Arena stopped holding events, said Mike Holland, the Golden Ox general manager.

"There was not a lot of things happening down here and still not happening down here. Our city leaders have had their hands in their pockets for seven years on Kemper Arena," Holland said. "That definitely had an effect on the area. So I think part of the blame goes to them."

The Golden Ox, which is on the first floor of the Livestock Exchange Building, was opened in 1949 by Jay Dillingham, the president of the stockyards.

"He wanted some place for the guys out in the yards to have some place to come in and eat and have a good hot meal, have a steak," Holland said. "And they used to cut them right there, too."

Some 13 packing plants sat across the river from the restaurant, which is credited with coming up with the Kansas City Strip, a cut from the short loin and served without a bone.

"We were the first ones that cut it off the bone where you have the single steak without the bone," Holland said. "Nowadays, everybody likes it on the bone for some reason. Personally, I’m like, why buy the bone?"

The building is owned by Bill Haw, a cattle rancher in the Flint Hills who is an advocate for the West Bottoms. It’s not yet clear what he’ll do with the restaurant area.

"I’ve heard everything from turning it into a brewery to gutting the whole thing to sealing the whole thing off and having two different types of restaurants," Holland said.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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