Barbecue year in review – 2014
Barbecue has been on a great run lately and although beef prices continue to be a major financial pain 2014 didn’t seem to slow down the growth in popularity of Texas barbecue. Austin has risen to not only challenge, but to overthrow Lockhart as the barbecue hot spot and it seems great barbecue joints are popping up monthly across all of Texas. 2014 was a year of maturing, growth, and expansion in the business.
For myself it was a time of physical recovery and of a solidifying of focus regarding barbecue. I started the year off in a wheelchair but stepped back in the world of barbecue touring and had some great barbecue experiences.
Leslye and I visited 110 joints as of December 29 (with two more scheduled for Dec 30th) and spent over $3,300 in food with a handful of t shirts mixed in. That’s an average of $275 a month. The costs don’t include fuel, hotel, or other expenses.
I was on national TV (BBQ Paradise 3, during the section filmed at Micklethwait Craft Meats). Leslye and I went to five different barbecue festivals in four different cities – Houston BBQ Fest, Red Dirt, Smoked Dallas, Texas Monthly, and Gettin Sauced. We were first in line for the grand opening of Black’s Barbecue’s Austin location and had our first visit to a number of other joints.
I changed my style a bit for the blog in 2014. Initially I thought I would hit as many stops as possible, especially in the Houston area. I would write about the good and the bad, and seek out “the next Snow’s” or “the next Franklin”. However, I decided early on that there wasn’t really much reason to write about the bad visits. Most folks in the barbecue business are working hard to make a living and getting bad publicity doesn’t do them any good. I also quickly tired of eating and paying for bad barbecue – there is a lot of it around and barbecue isn’t cheap.
Instead, I would celebrate the good joints. My blog posts moved from general food reviews to interviews and experiences. The road trip aspect still stayed in place though. I launched a series of articles on pit masters under 30 years old and met some great folks along the way..
I do still try to eat occasionally at joints that don’t have much publicity, but I’ve become a bit more judicious in my choices. I’ll check with some of the other bloggers or even Yelp reviews before going.
In March I attended a get together of bloggers and pitmasters at Snow’s Barbecue coordinated by photographer Robert Lerma. I met a number of wonderful people including Evan LeRoy, John Brotherton, Kathleen Mann, and more.
The barbecue fests in particular were great fun. Meeting new and existing friends with a love for barbecue provided great memories, the barbecue was amazing, and the live music made for fun days. Leslye and I were even recognized from the blog at the Texas Monthly fest; that was an odd feeling but it was nice to think that there are at least a few folks out there who read this blog.
Great memories made up my 2014 and I want to say thank you to the pit masters, restaurant owners, and fellow barbecue fanatics we’ve met this year!
By the numbers:
110 - Joints visited
Over $3,300 – Barbecue costs, not including hotel, fuel, etc
$275 – average monthly barbecue costs, not including hotel, fuel, etc
5 - number of barbecue festivals visited
4 – number of articles authored on Young Gun Pit Masters
9 - number of times visited for the most visited joint of 2014
Most visited joints in 2014:
9 visits Killen’s Barbecue
7 visits Pappa Charlies barbecue
5 visits Hays Co. Bar-b-que
5 visits The Wooden Spoke
4 visits Corkscrew Barbecue
4 visits Snow’s Barbecue
$1,167.64 – Amount of money spent at my most visited joints of 2014
Barbecue Joint Expansion in 2014
Hays County Bar-B-Que moves to I35 in San Marcos
Lockhart Smokehouse opens location in Plano, their second location
Lockhart restaurants expand:Terry Black and sons Michael and Mark open their own joint in Austin on Barton Springs Road
Black’s Original opens a satellite store in Austin on Guadalupe
Kent Black opens a location in San Marcos with blessing of original Black’s location
la Barbecue moves to 902 E. Cesar Chavez, announces future move to brick and mortar
Corkscrew Barbecue expands capacity with new Oyler
Killen’s Barbecue opens brick and mortar, adds pavilion, and begins a kitchen expansion
Texas Smoke with Ronnie Killen and Bryan Caswell opens briefly, then closes at Minute Maid Park
Russel Roegel opens Roegels Barbecue Co , rebranding his Baker’s Ribs location and separating his association with the franchise.
Pecan Lodge moves to Deep Ellum
Southside Market opens in Bastrop
Barbecue Expansion Announcements in 2014:
Greg Gatlin, Bryan Caswell, and Bill Floyd to open Jackson Street Barbecue in downtown Houston
Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-b-que to open in Austin (Early 2015)
la barbecue pit master John Lewis announces plans to open a restaurant in South Carolina
Smoke Restaurant in Dallas to add location in Plano
The Hutchins family rebrands their Randy White Hall of Fame BBQ to Hutchins BBQ, essentially creating a second location for Hutchins BBQ