Thursday, September 1, 2011

John Mueller returning to Austin

Update: Yes, there have been several such announcements, but this one comes from the man himself, and even includes a time of day. From @JMuellerBBQ on 9/2/11 "Monday September 26th at 10AM.... The new era of JMueller BBQ begins in Austin...This is not a tease!..1502 S.1st st.. See you There!!!!!"

9/1/11: I talked with John Mueller at the Gettin' Sauced event in Austin last weekend. He has scrapped plans to open on Shady Lane and instead will open in a trailer at:

1502 South First St.
Austin Texas 78704

He plans to open within the next three weeks and will operate out of a trailer until renovations are completed on the permanent building at the same site. At Gettin' Sauced he sold 400 links of special recipe sausage in 40 minutes, so maybe people are a little anxious for him to open.

6/2011: You may have heard that John Mueller has found an address for his new BBQ joint in Austin. It will be located in East Austin at 1109 Shady Lane (thanks Scrumptious Chef). It will be housed in the old house on the right pictured here.

Joe Nick Patoski
has some opinions on John Mueller's BBQ which he shared in his recent article in the New York Times and a very old blog post from 2004 where he stated that "John Mueller sets the standard for great Texas barbecue". This was just a few sentences after scolding him for opening a second location seven long years ago. Much has also been made about the fact that John cooks hot and fast as opposed to Franklin's 18+ hours of smoking. I think all the hubbub is for naught considering that anyone who has enjoyed the meats from Kreuz Market, Smitty's or Cooper's have all enjoyed the fruits of hot and fast smoking.

This new joint certainly comes with high expectations given that John's old joint on Manor Road was one of Texas Monthly's Top 50 BBQ joints in 2003. It's no wonder he chose the folks at Texas Monthly for a special tasting two weeks ago. The tweet from @TMfood read "AUSTIN: We previewed John Mueller's barbecued brisket & beef ribs today--they rock & roll! He will open ~July 13 near Shady Ln & Airport." Now we all know when the rest of us can get a taste.

- BBQ Snob

2010: Back in 2001, John Mueller left the family business in Taylor (Louie Mueller Barbecue) to start his own place (reportedly without the family's blessing). He opened up on Manor Road in Austin, and was named to Texas Monthly's Top 50 BBQ joints by 2003. When the BBQ World Headquarters (also a TM Top 50 pick in 2003) was closing up shop, John decided to branch out to a second location in 2004. By early 2006, both joints had closed up and John Mueller was gone from Austin. JM then worked as the pit master in Bastrop in late 2006 at John Mueller Old Town BBQ, but that joint went south soon after it opened. It's really a sad tale of a great pit master with a string of unsuccessful business ventures.

Just yesterday, as I grabbed a bite of some incredible brisket at Franklin BBQ in Austin (review coming soon), John's name came up when discussing the pit used at Franklin which came out of John Mueller's place on Manor Road.

Then today comes word that he's moving back into Austin. Texas Monthly's Pat Sharpe reported the following on her blog:

"The most intriguing email of the last week came to us from John Mueller...'Have a very Happy New Year. Look for John Mueller BBQ in the very early 2010 in some form. Taking it to the streets and using Joe Nick’s advice of 1 brisket at a time.–Have a great day–John Mueller.'

So, I emailed John with a few questions and just heard back. He says: “Yes [the new operation] will be in Austin. I’m taking this slowly to ensure a successful comeback. My first plan is to vend in local clubs so I can reestablish my reputation and confidence. I will be looking for the exact right opportunity for a building.”

She got a bit more info than the cryptic e-mail I received from JM, which simply read, "I have information about John Mueller coming back to Austin. Please contact me." Either way, it looks like John is truly making his way back to a city that needs an infusion of good BBQ. I can't wait to get a bite.

- BBQ Snob


Ted M said...

Having hit all the pits within 2 hr of Austin, I enjoyed JM's lovely crusted brisket (celery salt and pepper?) and meaty grainy sausage more than any Que around, the triumphal trio in lockhart, city market in luling, and cooper's in llano. Business tip? Smile more JM, always appreciate those that pay you. Do that and your BBQ will sell itself you a fortune. Attitude of gratitude!!

casey said...

I was about to recomend Franklin BBQ to you, but seems you already found it.

Joe L said...

Agree with Ted M. JM's bbq was top notch, light years ahead of the so called bbq one has to put up with in Austin proper. But JM could be quite ornery and disagreeable at times which probably turned away one too many bbq aficionados. Nonetheless, I'm pulling for his triumphant return.

Anonymous said...

well.. for those of us that really know jm here in the Taylor area and know about all the circumstances he has had dealing with his brother w taking over for his father... I can tell you that jm is just as lost as you can get. He is a mess to deal with and is a very angry person. Women, wifes, booze, family and etc.. etc.. the talent died when his father passed and I predict lm's will not survive also. When w fired Lance (the real talent and heir apparant with all the recipies) it was obvious that the end is near. It's a tragedy.

Anonymous said...

I'm rooting for John.. I was lucky enough to eat at John's place on Manor Rd a few times and to this day have never tasted a better slice of brisket. Of course he also served me a piece of HEB brisket one time because he didn't put any briskets on that day.. but that was also part of the draw. You never knew what you were going to get when you showed up. When he was on, he was the best and why people continue to talk about this man on bbq message boards across the country. Good luck JM

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"I was lucky enough to eat at John's place on Manor Rd a few times...Of course he also served me a piece of HEB brisket one time because he didn't put any briskets on that day.. but that was also part of the draw."

Are you kidding me? The guy took a crappy HEB brisket and warmed it up and charged you just as if it was his own? In myn business thats called misleading at best and fraud at worst. And how is that part of the draw, getting treated like crap?


Now that John is a short time away from re-opening a new shack (on Shady Lane, 1 tiny sized block N of Airport Road), this thread needs to be re-opened.

I, for one, hope to find out what his exact opening day is scheduled to be.

Anonymous said...

If John is smart he will cook the meats and let others deal with customers. He was just a surly guy who had a bad attitude nearly every time I encountered him. He always looked like he wanted to fight somebody. His meat had also be a LOT more consistant than it used to be and keep reasonable hours and not be "sold out" at 2 pm.

BBQ Snob said...

We can't have it both ways with Franklin being the (well deserved) darling of Austin and selling out sometimes around the time they open, and then complaining if John Mueller sells out early from his (very much anticipated) joint that's already had a mention in the New York Times. I hope he sells out because that means he's serving good, fresh food, and I like good, fresh food.

Anonymous said...

I don't wait in line with the LEMMINGS at Franklins either. I've sampled his brisket once and its good but not worth ANY of my time waiting in line at 100+ degrees. I'll drive to Taylor or Lockhart first.

gfinelogo said...

Went to Taylor last year and to be honest, didn't care for the all pepper rub.
Lockhart is still number 1 - All 3 joints.....

Anonymous said...

gfine.. wrote "1. Went to Taylor last year and to be honest, didn't care for the all pepper rub.
2. Lockhart is still number 1 - All 3 joints"

1. You won't like JMuellers than cause its nearly a duplicate of Louie Muellers.
2. As far as brisket goes there is a HUGE difference in the 4 BBQ joints in Lockhart. Black is hands down the best, Smittys is just average and always overcooked, Kreuz is similar to Smittys but not as good because the smoke isn't right (because of the metal pits)and Chisholm Trail is OK for the price but a cheaper cut of meat.


Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.