May 15,2016, SAN DIEGO — Before there was a convention center, cruise ship terminal, or Grand Hyatt — back when Police Headquarters was by the water — Martin and Cindy Blair honored their Kansas City heritage by opening Kansas City Barbecue downtown San Diego. May 15 marks the landmark’s 33th anniversary and also the 30th anniversary of the most memorable movie ever made in San Diego — TOP GUN, part of which was filmed in the restaurant.
To celebrate the anniversary, the restaurant will feature food and drink specials May 9 – 19, have the movie showing onscreen, and will be selling 30th Anniversary commemorative T-shirts and challenge coins. There will lots of reminiscing, such as when Anthony Edwards would help twin boys Adam and Aaron Weis (who played his son) count train cars as the train rolled by outside.
One of Martin Blair’s better decisions was to allow Paramount Pictures to shut down the restaurant to shoot scenes for TOP GUN, which came out in 1986. The location scout wandered in for a beer while searching for places to fUm (the motorcycle scene was shot at Seaport Village). He liked the place and returned with the director.
After filming the scene where Goose (Anthony Edwards) plays the piano and sings “Great Balls of Fire,” the director asked if they could return a month later to shoot the movie’s final scene, where Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Charlie (Kelly McGillis) reunite as “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” plays on the jukebox. The movie included Meg Ryan’s breakout role, as Goose’s wife Carole, who famously said, “Take me to bed or lose me forever.”
TOP GUN became an international blockbuster and an American classic which brought in $356 million worldwide. Kansas City Barbecue’s TOP GUN bar features Navy caps from various ships, movie memorabilia, and the original piano. The bartenders are often referred to as “curators” since the intimate bar resembles a museum. The actual TOP GUN staff used to hold meetings at the restaurant before the flight training school relocated from Miramar Naval Air Station to Fallon, Nevada.
Will there be a sequel? Rumor has it that producer Jerry Bruckheimer is planning a TOP GUN 2, which will explore the end of the manned fighter jet era and rise of the drone aircraft. Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer have shown interest in reprising their roles as Navy fighter pilots.
Kansas City Barbecue boasts a plum location in the heart of bustling Harbor Drive, within walking distance to thousands oftourists, conventioneers and downtown residents. Kansas City barbecue is famous for being slow smoked over a variety of woods in an onsite smoker, resulting in one-of-a-kind flavor revered by aficionados, who appreciate its special sauces and rubs and “burnt ends” of briskets known for their flavor.
Kansas City Barbecue is a casual “joint,” like most barbecue restaurants. There’s a Kansas City room, picturesque patio seating and a private back room. At 600 West Harbor Drive, it is open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., with the bar open until 2 a.m.