Barbecue year in review, 2014

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.

Samples from the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest

Samples from the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest (not our mess!)

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.

A replica of Willie Nelson's guitar Trigger was signed by the family

A replica of Willie Nelson’s guitar Trigger was signed by the family

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..

Patrick Feges

Patrick Feges at Killen’s Barbecue

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.

Opie's BBQ

Opies BBQ chopped beef sandwich surrounded by sides including tater tot casserole

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!

 

Texas BBQ Treasure Hunt Tattoo

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

Franklin Barbecue builds a smoke room, this opens up the back of the lot for other possibilities – A separate to-go line began construction.

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

El Burro and the Bull opens featuring John Avila (Franklin Barbecue, and Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue) and Veronica Hernandez. Info here.

Russel Roegel opens Roegels Barbecue Co , rebranding his Baker’s Ribs location and separating his association with the franchise.

Pappa Charlie’s Barbecue launches retail service, initially at Lucky’s Pub in the heights and later at Jackson’s Watering Hole on Richmond

Pecan Lodge moves to Deep Ellum

Southside Market opens in Bastrop

Jason Dady Restaurants, owner of Two Bros BBQ Market, opens B&D Ice House featuring barbecue and craft beers.

 

Barbecue Expansion Announcements in 2014:

Gatlin’s BBQ to move to larger location

Greg Gatlin, Bryan Caswell, and Bill Floyd to open Jackson Street Barbecue in downtown Houston

Kreuz Market opening in College Station (Early 2015)

Louie Mueller announces future expansion in Houston

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-b-que to open in Austin (Early 2015)

la Barbecue announces plans for brick and mortar on South Congress

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

 

Some of my favorite photos this year:

Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue

Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue

Michael Hernandez of Hay's County Bar-B-Que and Eric Linderman of Black's Barbecue

Michael Hernandez of Hay’s County Bar-B-Que and Eric Linderman of Black’s Barbecue

John Sanford from BBQ on the Brazos

John Sanford from BBQ on the Brazos

Leslye Trying out one of many offerings at Smoked, Dallas

Leslye Trying out one of many offerings at Smoked, Dallas

Barrett Black

Barrett Black of Black’s Barbecue

Seth Glaser of Opie's BBQ

Seth Glaser of Opie’s BBQ

Asenette, Aaron, and Michael Hernandez

Asenette, Aaron, and Michael Hernandez

Kerry, Tootsie, and Herschel (AKA Hershie)

Kerry, Tootsie, and Herschel (AKA Hershie)

Taylor Cafe entrance

Taylor Cafe entrance

John Mueller and future BBQ fan

John Mueller and future BBQ fan

Delicious beef rib at Freedmen's - Photo by Robert Bassett

Delicious beef rib at Freedmen’s – Photo by Robert Bassett