Why Are Texas Barbecue Dynasties Always Beefing?

How long do you drive for your barbecue? Texas Monthly’s Daniel Vaughn says rural smokehouses are expanding in bigger cities – and not without some growing pains.

By David Brown and Wells Dunbar February 19, 2015 8:05 am| ,

Used to be if you wanted authentic barbeque, it meant a drive – often to Lockhart, Texas. But then top shelf barbeque started scoring big time in major Texas cities – think Gatlin’s BBQ in Houston’s Heights neighborhood, or Franklin Barbecue in East Austin.

With new and acclaimed barbeque spots opening all over the state, some of Texas’ original smokehouses are opening new locations. But will the family feuds endemic to many barbeque dynasties snuff ’em out before they really start smoking?

The Standard reached out to Daniel Vaughn, BBQ Editor for Texas Monthly, for some answers. Here’s what he had to say.

On Kreutz Market’s expansion beyond Lockhart:

“We are seeing some unprecedented expansion. … Kreutz Market opened in 1900 and up until this year they only had one location – and that location has been in Lockhart. These days they are building a second location in Bryan, Texas … but Kreutz has actually been expanding all over the country with partnerships they just haven’t called them Kreutz Market. … And then you also have Schmidt Family Barbecue in Bee Cave right outside of Austin, there and then here in Dallas there is Lockhart Smokehouse.”

Why it seems barbeque families are always beefing:

“Blacks BBQ has really exploded this year alone. [They] opened in 1932 in Lockhart, Texas. … There was some family turmoil between the brother, Terry Black, who was opening up in Austin, and Kent Black, who runs the one in Lockhart now. It ended up changing its name, so that’s why we have Terry Black’s Barbeque. … What we didn’t know that there was already a Black’s Barbeque in the works in Austin – this one was to be run by the brother Kent Black. So Kent Black opened up Black’s Barbeque in Austin … they smoke all the meat in Lockhart and truck it up there.”

These are multigenerational businesses … If it gets passed down, it’s probably going to get passed down to a collection of siblings. Anytime a business, or money, or family or tradition is involved, there’s going to be some squabbling. Sometimes that squabbling gets a little more loud.”

Is it worth going out of your way for great ‘cue?

“Barbeque road tripping is one of my favorite hobbies. I mean, if you’re in downtown Austin near the Texas Monthly offices it literally takes you 30 minutes to get to Black’s Barbeque. And it probably takes you, in Austin traffic, about 15 minutes to get up to the new location … If it’s me, there’s one that I’m going to choose – and its going to be the one that opened in in 1932, not 2014.”