I have fallen in love with the charm and quaintness of Independence Square in two weeks.

As I drive by the Square each day, I admire the business owners because I know it cannot be easy in these tumultuous economic times.

Greg and Wilma Smith also love the local character of the Square – so much so, in fact, that they will open Gregory G’s BBQ at 106 W. Maple Ave. on Monday.

“It’s so vital to our community, and we just wanted to come down and be part of the excitement,” Wilma said. “We think that it’s going to revive.”

Why a barbecue? Greg has cooked for years, and his grandfather used to have his own catering business in Kansas.

“As a black man – back in that day – he wasn’t allowed to be seen or anything,” said Wilma, Greg’s wife. “As Greg grew up, he taught Greg.”

Greg’s grandfather’s legacy will live on through the restaurant – Gregory G’s BBQ will feature the family’s barbecue sauce, with varieties of regular, hot and sweet.

The Kansas City area is famous for restaurants such as Arthur Bryant’s BBQ and Gates Bar-B-Q, but Gregory G’s will make its name with dishes such as sweet potato fries and exclusive meat rubs.

The owner, Greg, also will always be present.

“That always makes it special when the customer can come in and actually greet the owner and know him personally,” Wilma said.

Greg will oversee daily operations while Wilma will maintain the payroll and other office responsibilities. The restaurant’s name, while simple, has a cute story. As the couple dated, Wilma often called Greg “GG,” after his full name of Gregory George.

Customers will order at the counter, but employees will clear the tables and refill beverages.

“We’re keeping the prices down,” Wilma said. “But yet, when they leave, they will feel like they’ve been to a regular restaurant. The menu will have everything that a full-service barbecue restaurant has.” 

People told Greg and Wilma that this wasn’t the time of the year to start their own business. That, Wilma said, is one reason they decided to locate Gregory G’s on the Square.

“We’re excited about the revitalization that’s going on down here. The city is doing a lot of things to bring this Square back, and we want to be a part of that effort,” Wilma said. “We want people to feel like they’ve actually been out to dinner at a nice restaurant with a price that they can afford.”

Located between the Pharaoh Cinema and Clinton’s Soda Fountain, Gregory G’s BBQ will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and will be closed on Sunday.