"Everybody thought it'd be a nice comeback story."
That's what LeAnn Mueller, sister to JMueller BBQ pitmaster John Mueller tells Eater Austin this morning as she announced that her brother is officially "out" at the South Austin barbecue trailer. The South First Street trailer was supposed to be something of a renaissance for John Mueller, who's had a number of stops and starts in the smoked meat business, battling substance abuse and a reputation for being a volatile manager of people.
He's the grandson of Taylor, Texas barbecue legend Louie Mueller, and he worked at the family shop as a younger man, before failed attempts at his own pits on Manor Road in Austin and out in Bastrop. This year was supposed to be the year of John Mueller.
When his JMueller BBQ opened last fall, the response was enthusiastic and consistent: Mueller was back. Almost exactly a year later, LeAnn Mueller, who owns JMueller BBQ, says she can't take her brother managing the business any more.
"John's out. He's never owned it. He decided to mismanage again," Mueller tells Eater Austin. "I'm not taking the brunt of this." Mueller says she's got "a lot of bridges" she needs to "mend" with neighbors and turned-off customers. "There shouldn't be this much drama," she says.
Mueller says she has hired on former Franklin Barbecue pitmaster John Lewis, who has been visiting at JMueller BBQ as a kind of smoky internship, to take over permanently. The trailer will be closed today and tomorrow and "possibly Friday" while Mueller restructures.
"I want to put a product out that's good," says Mueller. "If people want to follow us, it's not going to be this ego shit."
UPDATE 4:35 p.m. 11/2: Eater Austin editor Andrea Grimes, here. Comments to this post have been turned off.
· JMueller BBQ [Facebook]
· After years of battling personal demons, John Mueller is back and better than ever before [Statesman]
· All JMueller BBQ Coverage on Eater Austin [-EATX-]
· All Barbecue Coverage on Eater Austin [-EATX-]
John Mueller, instagrammed. [Photo: JMueller BBQ/Facebook]