Holy smokes, there may actually be a limit to Texans’ love of barbecue

The world as we know it isn’t ending, but if anything tells us times are strange, it’s Texas BBQ joints struggling to drum up business.

Sometimes local media just fits:

BBQ sales declines
  • Los Angeles Magazine has a “Cannabis” section atop its site.
  • The South Florida Sun Sentinel prominently features a “Storms & Hurricanes” beat.
  • And Texas Monthly takes great pride in its BBQ coverage.

Of course it does. Nothing evokes Texan life quite like an overloaded plate of brisket…

… which is why one recent Texas Monthly piece, “Is Texas’s Barbecue Bubble Ready to Burst?,” absolutely floored us.

Are we entering a BBQ recession?

Not quite. Texan restaurants that had been printing money are just coming back to Earth now.

  • Shop owners in the state reported dwindling lines and 20%+ sales dips this summer.

A market that was impervious to gravity is meeting it in the form of:

  • It’s too dang hot: Restaurants blame high temperatures for keeping people away. Put more artfully in Texas Monthly: “A heavy meal of smoked meat feels less than refreshing when it’s 110 degrees.”
  • A “broken” system: As every business owner on Earth right now knows, operating expenses have ballooned — labor costs have risen, sure, but so have the raw costs of high-quality meats. After customers complained of high prices, one restaurateur explained how far a 15-pound brisket purchased at $5.45/lb could go. (Hint: not far.)
  • A flooded market: Texas, its major markets fully saturated with well-regarded BBQ joints, is wrestling with a basic supply-demand issue.

The rush to join the BBQ bubble has now yielded a different kind of heat: the pressure to survive its burst.

Speaking of heat… Leaving the house to pick up a plate of links on a hot day sucks, but just imagine making them. Pit rooms, where meats cook at high temps for hours, reportedly reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit during this summer’s hottest days.

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Topics: Food

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