The Time Is Now

Support local, independent reporting.

Help the city we love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.


Lawless Barbecue Has Partnered With Little Beast Brewing to Bring You Kansas City-Style BBQ

“One of the things that stands out about our barbecue is that we also focus on sauces and side dishes so that everything on the plate is as phenomenal as the oak-smoked meat.”

An up-and-coming cloud kitchen is now doing dine-in service as Little Beast Brewing’s new resident food provider.

Lawless Barbecue officially began operations today at the Beer Garden on Southeast Division Street near 34th Avenue—the former Lompoc Hedge House.

Little Beast co-founders Charles Porter and Brenda Crow had been serving a snack-heavy menu that included a few heftier items, like the Oregon Grinder piled high with fennel pollen salami, prosciutto and capicola. But the husband-and-wife team recently announced they were looking for a kitchen partner inside their cozy bungalow in order to focus on beverage service.

They found that partner in Kevin Koch, who has gifted Portlanders a taste of his home state in the form of smoke and meat. The Kansas transplant launched Lawless at the beginning of the year as a takeout-only joint. The lack of chairs didn’t end up being a hindrance.

Koch quickly built a fervent following, tripling business over the course of six months and selling out of food regularly, disappointing anyone whose fingers weren’t nimble enough with an ordering app. That success prompted him to look for a brewery to partner with, and eventually, he discovered Little Beast’s need for someone to helm the kitchen.

“I couldn’t be happier; in addition to barbecue I’m also a beer nerd, so it’s really exciting to partner with one of Portland’s most beloved, top-notch breweries,” Koch stated in a press release. “I know Portlanders are going to love the food, and the way it pairs with Little Beast’s beers.”

Koch, who has worked in the restaurant industry since the age of 14, moved here more than a decade ago and directed operations at a local restaurant chain. However, his true passion remained Kansas City-style ‘cue, so he started developing recipes on the side while catering events and family gatherings.

The result is a menu that includes 13-hour smoked prime brisket, burnt ends, spare ribs and pulled pork. While obviously geared toward carnivores, Lawless does serve a vegetarian mushroom burger topped with Swiss cheese, so you can bring your vegetarian friend to lunch. The mains are rounded out by a handful of classic sides, like barbecue beans, loaded potato salad, mac and cheese, and a vinegar-based slaw—dishes that Koch says are carefully crafted from scratch and not just an afterthought.

“Ever since moving to this beautiful city I’ve wanted to open a barbecue business with food like back in Kansas City,” said Koch. “One of the things that stands out about our barbecue is that we also focus on sauces and side dishes so that everything on the plate is as phenomenal as the oak-smoked meat. There’s more cooking and attention to classic homemade sides than you’d expect from a meat market-style barbecue joint.”

Related: Yeast-Focused Little Beast Brewing Is Opening a Taproom at Its Clackamas Production Facility