Local Olympic athletes, pitmaster open ‘Gold Medal’ restaurant

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (KSNT) — At first glance, one may walk by Gold Medal Barbecue and assume the name refers to winning barbecue competitions, but it actually refers to the Olympic history of owners Kyle and Christina Clemons.

The two are world champion runners. Kyle took home the gold medal in the 4×400 relay in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Christina competed in Tokyo this summer. And just two days after touching back down in the United States, Christina was on hand for the ribbon-cutting at Gold Medal Barbecue in Lawrence.

“Getting that medal which is tangible is cool, but the memories are what really sticks with me,” Kyle said.

These aren’t just Olympic memories though. Kyle’s knowledge of the barbecue business goes all the way back to helping his dad at 11 years old. His father owned his own business in Jonesboro, Arkansas, an hour away from the famous Memphis barbecue scene. But he wants to make it clear that his barbecue is not Memphis-style.

The former KU Jayhawk went on to play football, baseball and eventually focus his talents on track. That’s how he met his wife Christina, who now volunteer coaches at the University of Kansas. Christina went viral for her Dorito earrings during the 2021 Olympic Trials.

“We wake up, we eat, sleep, wake up, eat, sleep, practice,” Kyle said. “That’s our full-time job.”

To break up the monotony of the track grind, the couple invested in a food truck. Two years later, their brick-and-mortar store is open.

Kyle, who said he is a creature of habit when it comes to ordering food, gives all the creative credit to his wife. Christina is the culinary brains behind the “For Foodies” portion of their menu. It includes smokehouse beignets – a pillowy donut filled with meat and cheese, and pulled pork waffles which are stuffed with pulled pork and topped with candied walnuts and brown sugar.

The restaurant also features a full bar and all the classic barbecue favorites.

While the food is already selling out, their winning mentality is pushing them to improve their cuisine even further.

“We practice and go so hard for minimal improvement,” Kyle said. “I’m talking about inches of improvement, milliseconds. Taking that into here, we’re going to make sure our stuff is good. We’re going to make sure our food is amazing.”

Now that’s a lunch and dinner of champions.

Gold Medal Barbecue is located at 900 New Hampshire Street in Lawrence. To view their full menu, click here.

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