Being Shuttered by Hurricane Harvey Helped This Houston BBQ Restaurant Find Its Stride
Houston Barbecue Company made the most out of having to start all over again.
At first, it seemed like Houston Barbecue Company would survive Hurricane Harvey without so much as a scratch. But two days after the storm made landfall in Houston, the Army Corps of Engineers opened the floodgates of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs and released an enormous amount of water into Buffalo Bayou.
Sitting along Buffalo Bayou just a mile and a half down from the floodgates, Houston Barbecue Company was flooded. According to a recent profile in Texas Monthly, the water didn’t recede for two weeks, and the Energy Corridor restaurant was shuttered for more than five months.
It was an excruciating recovery—one that could have thrust owners Joseph and Lucinda Flores into a pit of despair. But instead, it reinvigorated them. When it finally reopened, the couple told Texas Monthly that they felt recommitted to their restaurant and the quality of the barbecue. “We feel like it sort of swiped everything away, you know? A clean slate,” Joseph explained.
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The Floreses took over Houston Barbecue Company in 2014. Writer Daniel Vaughn referred to a 2015 visit to the restaurant as unmemorable. But that’s no longer the case.
Pitmaster Juan Carmona said he really hit his stride post Harvey. “I’ve put more passion into it,” he said, admitting that he’s also more dedicated to maintaining the restaurant’s old-school pair of massive steel smokers. “This is really something I want to do now.”
They’ve also upgraded the quality of the meat that goes into the pits. The brisket, Vaughn wrote, has improved.
Though they toyed with the idea of expanding before the storm, Joseph told Texas Monthly that for now, their focus is on the food. They try not to dwell on the challenges Harvey brought. “There are a lot of negatives in that, but we focus on the positives,” he said.
That focus has certainly paid off.