The Story of a Local Legend

OUTdrive Episode 99 with John Kehde

OUTdrive Episode 99 with John Kehde

Small business owners have an inherent responsibility to be active and invested in their community. That’s especially true for OUTdrive guest John Kehde, who took his passion and civic duty to the highest commitment, serving and eventually leading the local government for the city of Sedalia. In this episode, John takes us back in time, giving a guided history of the city of Sedalia, Kehde’s Barbeque, and his career span from the military to a restaurateur to a small-town mayor.

John is a local business owner and most recently served as the mayor of Sedalia. He has lived in Sedalia since his parents moved here in 1947. After serving in the Vietnam War and living in Denmark during his stint in the military, John, and his wife Chelsea, returned to Sedalia. John took over the family restaurant, Dog N’ Suds, and rebranded it to Kehde’s Barbeque. Along with running a family business, John served as a city councilman early in his career, and in 2018, he was elected mayor of Sedalia, and recently retired from that role. He is a Smith-Cotton High School alum and studied at the University of Missouri before going into the military.

Tune into this episode to hear all about his amazing life story and you’ll soon discover why every day is “the best day ever” for John.


  • 2:30 – John talks about his background and the history of how his family got started in the restaurant business
  • 4:10 – John shares the origin story of Dog N’ Suds and their famous root beer
  • 7:00 – John talks about what it was like growing up in Sedalia back in the 1960’s
  • 10:30 – John shares his experience of being in the military during the Vietnam War
  • 13:30 – John tells the story of how he met his wife, Chelsea, and their time in Denmark
  • 17:00 – John talks about moving back to Sedalia and helping take the family restaurant in a new direction: to BBQ
  • 22:00 – John explains how the now-famous railcar came to be home at Kehde’s
  • 27:45 – John shares how his restaurants and others kept business alive during the height of the pandemic with carry-out service and tip sharing
  • 35:15 – John explains what attracted him to run for city council
  • 37:45 – John shares how the changes in his neighborhood prompted him to run for mayor some 30 years later
  • 39:50 – John talks about the revitalization of Sedalia neighborhoods and how the city is helping redevelop certain areas