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What Would You Do? BBQ Spot In Gentrifying Austin Neigbhorhood (1 Viewer)

What Would You Do?

  • Sell for sure

    Votes: 41 63.1%
  • Probably sell

    Votes: 16 24.6%
  • On the fence

    Votes: 1 1.5%
  • Probably not sell

    Votes: 6 9.2%
  • For sure not sell

    Votes: 1 1.5%

  • Total voters
    65

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
Interesting story.

Quick version is Bran Mays owns East Austin Institution Sams BBQ in a neighborhood that's changing. He's got an offer to sell his property for 5 million dollars. But it would hasten the changes in his neighborhood he'd prefer not to see.

What would you do?

https://www.texasmonthly.com/the-culture/5-million-sams-bbq-dilemma/

In June, Brian Mays, owner of the East Austin institution Sam’s BBQ, put out a call to his community. The same developers who snatched up swathes of the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood had come to his triple lot with an offer to buy—for $3.5 million. Mays—whose family bought the restaurant from the founder, Sam Campbell, in 1976—had watched as East Austin’s landscape changed over the years. White people moved into the historically black neighborhood and African-American families and businesses sold their property to newcomers whose vision for East Austin included condo towers and hipster bars. So Mays told the neighbors who asked him not to sell that if they wanted him to stay, they needed to show him that they valued Sam’s the same way he did—by showing up to eat the brisket, sausage, ribs, mutton, and chicken he smokes seven days a week.

The community responded. Black and white East Austinites started turning up and doing their part to make sure that Sam’s wasn’t just a museum of the old East Austin, but a vibrant and active part of the neighborhood.

But last week, Mays told KVUE that the developers had come back. This time, they’d upped their offer to $5 million.

That’s a lot of money, and it puts Sam’s BBQ in an unusual bind. Mays is 64. He loves his neighborhood, and business is good enough that he doesn’t need to sell. But also, when you’ve spent decades running a restaurant and now you can walk away with millions, who are you responsible to in making that decision?

Rest of article

 
Gentrification gets a bad rap. 
 No, it really doesn’t. In fact most people are in favor of it. The only folks it really affects are usually the poor and marginalized people that used to live in those neighborhoods. 

 Sure there’s a small vocal minority of university types that complain about it but the vast majority of people support redevelopment in older neighborhoods close to central business districts. If this wasn’t the case there would be no market for redeveloping these areas. 

 
If he's not ready to retire, he should stay open and not sell. If he's having profitability issues or is deeply in debt, that's another story.  He might be leaving some money on the table, or he might get a better offer in 3-5 that's when he's finally ready to hang up his apron.

 
I live about 0.5 mile from Sam's. I think there is a 0% chance he actually has a $5mm offer. He makes this up every few months to get his name in the paper. A few months ago, he said it was a $3mm offer. 

If he really had a $5mm offer, he should take it immediately. It would be the highest land sale per sq foot in Austin. Higher than downtown lots. 

I don't believe the offer is real.

 
Yeah, tough decision...in a few more years he might not be up to keeping that place running 7 days a week, then what? Gonna wish he had the 5 million.

his neighborhood is changing with or without him and eventually Sams will be gone regardless 

TAKE THE MONEY 

 
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I live about 0.5 mile from Sam's. I think there is a 0% chance he actually has a $5mm offer. He makes this up every few months to get his name in the paper. A few months ago, he said it was a $3mm offer. 

If he really had a $5mm offer, he should take it immediately. It would be the highest land sale per sq foot in Austin. Higher than downtown lots. 

I don't believe the offer is real.
Interesting marketing strategy.  Business get slow, scare the public into coming in for more brisket.

 
If he doesn’t like what the neighborhood is becoming, he should leave.  Greener pastures and all that.

 
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Take the $5M and then use the money in disadvantaged and poor areas to lift up others by doing good works.

 
I love this board. whoknew's posts were wonderful regarding the area and publicity-seeking aspect of this.  

As a whole, gentrification is a deep issue. I'm not qualified to comment on it. 

 
I'm with Whoknew in that I'm not convinced this is a real offer.  I suspect he is doing it to try and drum up business because this kind of BBQ joint is dying in TX. This is one of those iconic old-school local neighborhood lunch type BBQ spots. The kind that takes pride in "taking a bad cut of meat" and making it "great". The problem with them is that beef BBQ has been exposed by the new school guys (Franklin, Mueller, Snow, Micklethwaite, Truth, etc.) who have taught us that truly great beef BBQ starts with high-quality beef.  High-quality beef not only tastes better but is easier to cook consistently, which is the toughest part of cooking select or lower beef.  And in TX, Beef is the only BBQ that matters.  Pork is good, don't get me wrong, but it is much more forgiving to cook and it is very difficult to tell great quality Butt or Rib from lesser quality. Pork is more about the rendering and seasoning, IMO.

Some old school joints make the leap to better quality beef like Mueller did when his old man passed on but most of them stay stuck in their ways. As a result, they don't get the foodie "tourist" BBQ seekers who are willing to pay $20 a pound for brisket and they also lose market share at the low end to places like Rudy's. And then they wither and die.  Or find a creative way to drive local traffic?

Just to prove my point, the top 10 of TX Monthly BBQ are all new places that have started in the last few years, except Louie Mueller's.  But he has adapted significantly.

1. Snow’s BBQ (Lexington)
2. Franklin Barbecue (Austin)
3. Cattleack Barbeque (Dallas)
4. Bodacious Bar-B-Q (Longview)
5. Louie Mueller Barbecue (Taylor)
6. Tejas Chocolate Craftory (Tomball)
7. CorkScrew BBQ (Spring)
8. Micklethwait Craft Meats (Austin)
9. Evie Mae’s Pit Barbecue (Wolfforth)
10. Truth Barbeque (Brenham)

 
I'm with Whoknew in that I'm not convinced this is a real offer.  I suspect he is doing it to try and drum up business because this kind of BBQ joint is dying in TX. This is one of those iconic old-school local neighborhood lunch type BBQ spots. The kind that takes pride in "taking a bad cut of meat" and making it "great". The problem with them is that beef BBQ has been exposed by the new school guys (Franklin, Mueller, Snow, Micklethwaite, Truth, etc.) who have taught us that truly great beef BBQ starts with high-quality beef.  High-quality beef not only tastes better but is easier to cook consistently, which is the toughest part of cooking select or lower beef.  And in TX, Beef is the only BBQ that matters.  Pork is good, don't get me wrong, but it is much more forgiving to cook and it is very difficult to tell great quality Butt or Rib from lesser quality. Pork is more about the rendering and seasoning, IMO.

Some old school joints make the leap to better quality beef like Mueller did when his old man passed on but most of them stay stuck in their ways. As a result, they don't get the foodie "tourist" BBQ seekers who are willing to pay $20 a pound for brisket and they also lose market share at the low end to places like Rudy's. And then they wither and die.  Or find a creative way to drive local traffic?

Just to prove my point, the top 10 of TX Monthly BBQ are all new places that have started in the last few years, except Louie Mueller's.  But he has adapted significantly.

1. Snow’s BBQ (Lexington)
2. Franklin Barbecue (Austin)
3. Cattleack Barbeque (Dallas)
4. Bodacious Bar-B-Q (Longview)
5. Louie Mueller Barbecue (Taylor)
6. Tejas Chocolate Craftory (Tomball)
7. CorkScrew BBQ (Spring)
8. Micklethwait Craft Meats (Austin)
9. Evie Mae’s Pit Barbecue (Wolfforth)
10. Truth Barbeque (Brenham)
What grade does Snow's cook?

 
whoknew said:
I live about 0.5 mile from Sam's. I think there is a 0% chance he actually has a $5mm offer. He makes this up every few months to get his name in the paper. A few months ago, he said it was a $3mm offer. 

If he really had a $5mm offer, he should take it immediately. It would be the highest land sale per sq foot in Austin. Higher than downtown lots. 

I don't believe the offer is real.
Interesting. Thanks for the insight. 

 
Here's a corner lot about 2-3 blocks from Sam's. Its listed for $73 per square foot.

Sam is claiming his offer is $340 per square foot. Maybe its a real offer - but I doubt it.
That may be true....but from what I gather from alot of movies is that a big developer wants to make an example out of a person who's holding out selling; particularly if the person is a leader in the community.  The developer is coming from the idea that if he can "buy" this person with integrity and strong ties to the community...the rest of the community will be disheartened and sell.  

 
Just to prove my point, the top 10 of TX Monthly BBQ are all new places that have started in the last few years, except Louie Mueller's.  But he has adapted significantly.

1. Snow’s BBQ (Lexington)
2. Franklin Barbecue (Austin)
3. Cattleack Barbeque (Dallas)
4. Bodacious Bar-B-Q (Longview)
5. Louie Mueller Barbecue (Taylor)
6. Tejas Chocolate Craftory (Tomball)
7. CorkScrew BBQ (Spring)
8. Micklethwait Craft Meats (Austin)
9. Evie Mae’s Pit Barbecue (Wolfforth)
10. Truth Barbeque (Brenham)
I am fairly certain I have been eating Franklin's for a decade ish.  Never been to Snow's but I heard it talked about in Franklins.. about a decade ago as well?

Isn't bodacious the oldest bbq joint in Texas?  I am not a fan it but wife's family in Longview loves it.

 
I'm with Whoknew in that I'm not convinced this is a real offer.  I suspect he is doing it to try and drum up business because this kind of BBQ joint is dying in TX. This is one of those iconic old-school local neighborhood lunch type BBQ spots. 
He is open in the evening too. I read a couple other articles on Mays, and he said he is one of the last black business owners in the area. He said an Oregon developer wants to put up condos/apartments in the spot. He said they are supposed to meet in person in late November. He said he isn't hurting for money, and makes roughly $230,000 a year.  He also said he has never had millions before, and it is hard to turn down. He wants an improved offer, and if that doesn't happen, he is content to keep the business running.

 
you have to sell for your family and grandkids etc that is money that can help for generations good job making a business that could sell for that much but now do the right thing for the future take that to the bank brohans 

 
He is open in the evening too. I read a couple other articles on Mays, and he said he is one of the last black business owners in the area. He said an Oregon developer wants to put up condos/apartments in the spot. He said they are supposed to meet in person in late November. He said he isn't hurting for money, and makes roughly $230,000 a year.  He also said he has never had millions before, and it is hard to turn down. He wants an improved offer, and if that doesn't happen, he is content to keep the business running.
Sales, or profit? Because if he's making $230k a year in profit and doesn't have millions, he's doing it wrong.

 
Interesting story.

Quick version is Bran Mays owns East Austin Institution Sams BBQ in a neighborhood that's changing. He's got an offer to sell his property for 5 million dollars. But it would hasten the changes in his neighborhood he'd prefer not to see.

What would you do?

https://www.texasmonthly.com/the-culture/5-million-sams-bbq-dilemma/
It is happening all over in Downtown Detroit now and will continue as the city is changing fast.   The only issue is and make no mistake if he decides not sell someone else will.

 
At 64, I would have taken the $3.5M and retired. Maybe ask them to throw in a condo in the new building.

 
As one who has worked in restaurants all my life, if I got offered 3 million at 64 years old, I would have taken it so fast, I would have made Speedy Gonzales look like a turtle.  The wear and tear this career takes on your body is no joke.  5 Million?  No-brainer.  I'm retiring.

Not to mention, assuming he truly does make 230K a year, it would take another 22 years to make 5 million.

 
Money almost always talks, but believe it or not, there are people in this world who make altruistic decisions every day.

 
If he cares that much about his community, then he could use some of that $5M to help some of his neighbors.

I mean, the gentrification is going to happen whether he likes it or not. At least this way he'll be in a position to make it easier for the people he cares about.

 
He has enough guts to create a successful business - he's got a better shot at making a good decision on this than I do.

If it were me, I'd sell, but if it were me, I never would have built something to begin with.

I'd sell because one business won't stop anything - the neighborhood he remembers is already gone, he may as well cash in and find a new neighborhood he likes.  Trying to stop time never works indefinitely.

 
How is this not 100% for option one? That place looks like a stiff breeze would knock it over. Take the money and run. Or take the money and buy a segway so you don't have to run. 

 
Take the $5 million and donate $500,000 to anti-gentrification efforts - small business loans for minority business owners in the area, low-cost rental housing, "Right To The City", etc.

 

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