PEORIA, Ill -- Grandpa John's son Doug Robinson says his dad taught him the first rule of ribs more than 60 years ago: always barbecue the best meat.
As John Robinson used to say, "You can buy a bad rib, and then if you cook it, you're not going to make it any better."
From there, the Grandpa John's process is the relative standard for Kansas City style ribs: Hickory and cherry wood in a rotisserie smoker for three-and-a-half hours without a dry rub, then add the sauce a few minutes before the ribs are done.
There's the real difference between Grandpa John's and the others. They have one sauce, because that's all they've ever needed.
"They had Big John's and that was excellent," said regular customer Bryan Welsh. "It's kind of a take from that, and the sauce is the same."
"Do it the same way every time," confirmed Doug Robinson. "If they don't like it, they don't like it. You don't change for the customer, you change the customer to your product."
Audrey Williams joined me this week and ordered the rib tip special.
Audrey called the rib tips "sweetly satisfying" with plenty of tender meat on the bone.
I ordered the regular rib dinner with ranch baked beans and sweet potato fries.
These ribs nearly melt in your mouth and effortlessly slide off the bone.
The slightly sweet sauce takes you halfway to barbecue heaven and the sweet potato fries complete the trip.
Our meals with home made sweet potato pie and cheesecake came to $31.15 plus tip.
Robinson says Grandpa John taught him that once the sauce is perfected (which it is), don't bother with additional sauces like the others do.
"I always say there's a reason for that," Robinson says with a laugh. "Because the meat needs help."
Grandpa John's Rib Shack is at 7805 North University.
They are open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. They stay open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and are closed Sundays.