The suburbs are getting their taste of the Austin experience. Longtime Austin staple JuiceLand recently opened at 900 North Austin Ave. (near Williams Drive). The store was the 18th in the Austin area when it opened two weeks ago, and was joined today by a JuiceLand inside the 365 by Whole Foods store in Cedar Park. The Georgetown store is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
JuiceLand also has locations in Dallas, Houston and Brooklyn.
Like a phoenix rising from the barbecue ashes, John Mueller has another rebirth in store. The longtime Texas barbecue boss and grandson of Taylor barbecue scion Louie Mueller will soon be cooking again, this time at the Black Box Barbecue trailer in historic Georgetown. Owners Gary Brown and Justin Bohls will soft open the trailer at 201 E. Ninth St. next weekend during the town’s Red Poppy Festival.
The black trailer will serve Mueller’s famous brisket and beef rib, along with pork ribs, pulled pork, chicken and his various side dishes. The trailer is intended to be just the first step in Mueller’s reintroduction to the Central Texas market. His partners, with whom Mueller has been friends for decades, plan to open Black Box barbecue on the adjacent property, with construction to begin soon.
“It feels frickin awesome,” Mueller said of his return to professional cooking.
Black Box Barbecue will be the third barbecue business the enigmatic pit masters has been associated with in the past six years in Central Texas. He opened J Mueller Barbecue on South First Street in 2011, but his involvement came to an end in 2012 following a fiscal dispute with his sister, LeAnn Mueller, who transformed the business into La Barbecue. Mueller then headed to East Austin, where he operated John Mueller Meat Co. at East Sixth and Pedernales streets from 2013 until last August, when the State of Texas closed that business, citing Mueller’s unpaid taxes.
Mueller says that those who may wonder about his business acumen and relationships this time around shouldn’t worry.
“I’m going to cook for people who’ve known me all my life, who’ve read everything there is to read about me and still want to work with me,” Mueller said. “We’re gonna have a really sound business and cook really good food.”
Mueller first came to recognition in Austin, almost as much for his surly attitude as his stunning brisket, while running John Mueller BBQ on Manor Road from 2001 to ’06, during which time a young Aaron Franklin cut onions and worked the register. Following that shutter, Mueller took a hiatus from Austin before returning for his tumultuous run of the last seven years.
As for any doubters or haters, Mueller laughs at the idea.
“Are there still any out there?” asked Mueller. “I don’t think anyone remembers who I am.”
I heard grumblings early last week in the restaurant world that Maudie’s Tex-Mex would be paying double-time to employees who chose to work on Thursday, a day of protest and unity labeled “A Day Without Immigrants.” The Austin-based Tex-Mex restaurant launched by Joe Draker in 1992 stayed true to those rumors, but Maudie’s received backlash on the Internet when an internal memo addressing the protest surfaced. The unauthorized communique, which many found condescending and disrespectful, eventually made its way to Reddit and led to negative comments on Facebook and elsewhere.
While Maudie’s chose not to address the letter or verify its authenticity late last week, Draker issued a statement today addressing the restaurant’s original intent and the ensuing controversy over the memo (seen on the right). That statement is below. Maudie’s has also said that no employee has been terminated as a result of the internal memo.
“We haven’t been concerned with where the source came from, but with spending our energy raising our consciousness about and learning from the situation,” Maudie’s ownership added via email.
“Our team at Maudie’s is like a family to us and sometimes, even in the best of families, people make mistakes, especially when it comes to communication.
We are truly sorry for the internal message sent to our stores regarding the ‘A Day without Immigrants’ protest. In retrospect, we see that the language in the letter misrepresented not only our intentions, but also what was verbally communicated to our employees about this event, and unfortunately, the core values of Maudie’s.
Prior to the event, our management, including our HR Director, held numerous face-to-face meetings with employees (in both Spanish and English). In those conversations, we shared that each individual, without fear of repercussion, could decide for themselves whether or not to come to work that day.
Being open was in no way meant to slight the demonstrations. Simply, those in our employee family who wanted to work on that day had the opportunity to do so.
At Maudie’s, we have always valued our employees, and will continue to do so. We consider each other family. We empathize with the plight of the immigrant community, and will keep advocating for key efforts in this movement. Our leadership is committed to respecting all of our employees, and we pledge to more thoughtfully show that respect in all that we do moving forward.”