You’ve noticed the windows open, you’ve seen the new deck and sign, but now allow us to give you an inside look into the Texas Old 300 BBQ.
As you walk in the door, there’s no question, Owners Mike and Sue Betzer and Gary Kuykendall have put time, sweat, and effort into restoring and revitalizing 318 4th St. On your right, the wall is dedicated to Austin’s Old 300, the first American settlers in Texas. Yes, the traditional “Texas BBQ” theme is rooted a little more deeply here. Gary’s ancestors were part of the Old 300 and they even did a little barbecuing of their own back then, though you won’t find any Longhorn ribs in this modern restaurant. As you head for the order counter, you’ll choose your beverage from a number of tin tubs, sunken into a table, then look up at the huge chalkboard sign that will host the menus and specials. Above you, strung up turkey feeders have been refurbished as lights. To the left, the last names of the Old 300 have been painted on the wall, and there are quite a few local names this reporter recognized. Finally you’ll arrive at the counter, where you’ll be able to order your BBQ by the pound or by the plate. You won’t be able to take a peek inside the pit, but you will see your meat cut just behind the counter. The rub and sauce are all Kuykendall family recipes, and will be packaged for individual sale. Another feature behind the counter, a dutch door for togo orders and catered pick ups.
With your order in hand you’ll enter the dining area, now featuring bar stool seating and a special “rib table” with a built in sink, in addition to regular seating. You will sit down, eager for BBQ, but will you be able to stop noticing all the little details first? All the chairs feature a star design, an Model T wheel (a souvenir of when the building was a car dealership) hangs from the ceiling, the ventilation system is covered with paper cut outs from feed sacks, historic pictures and documents hang on the walls, and is that an old scale converted into a drinking water dispenser? These features and more will keep you on the look out for something new, every time you come in.
The cool air conditioning and lack of fluorescent lights add to the pleasant atmosphere beyond the decor. The bathrooms are spacious and keep with the western theme. The back door has a viewing window where you can get a look at ‘Lil Abner’, the hand built limestone pit (another fun detail here, the counterweights that lift the doors of the pit are made from old oil drums). It’s Gary’s third limestone pit, this one was constructed with the help of local artisans. ‘Lil Abner’ is named in honor of Gary’s Great Great Uncle, Abner Kuykendall, one of the Old 300. It’s also a throwback to the comic strip that ran from 1934-1977.
Work has begun on the City’s Streetscape plan, which includes constructing sidewalks in front the the restaurant. After the sidewalks are complete, hitching posts will be constructed for safer Motorcycle parking in front. Mike Betzer also has plans for a washer pit. Plans for the other half of the building are still underway. Mike tells us that it will be given a facelift as well, to eventually be offered as an event facility.
The people behind the BBQ are just as inviting as the restaurant. Mike and Sue Betzer moved to Blanco ten years ago, and they were big fans of Bob Riley’s BBQ. Like a lot of us, they were disappointed when it was closed.
“We felt that this great town needs great BBQ, but loving and wanting BBQ doesn’t make you great at cooking BBQ.” said Mike. That’s when they were introduced to Gary through a mutual friend. It was a match made in BBQ heaven. Gary had the skill and the Betzer’s had the way. Less than six months after their first meeting, the Texas Old 300 BBQ is nearly ready to open. The soft opening will begin the week of October 14, with the Grand Opening on October 19. For now they will be open for lunch and dinner, with plans for a simple breakfast menu in the near future.
Gary, Mike and Sue are excited to open their doors. Mike added, “Sue and I fell in love with this town the first time we came here. It’s so unique, warm, and classic. We are very excited to bring BBQ back into Blanco. We welcome everyone in!”