Why is Franklin BBQ in austin so good?

Discussion in 'Beef' started by waytoodeep03, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    Yeah, because our govt. makes it so dang hard for small business owners.  I'd love to sell my 'que one day as I get better and more experience with smoking, but can't see how I'd be successful when first starting out and having to go through all of the hoops to even get a license and all of that crap, much less cook a quality product.  With how heavily everything is regulated, the fact that Aaron Franklin started his restaurant from the ground up (and went through a highway trailer) shows some serious dedication.  
  2. jwg299

    jwg299 Smoke Blower

    You lost me there bud, what does the presidents have to do with Franklin's BBQ?
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014
  3. One key word Balismoke said "   consistently  "  to me that is what makes a successful BBQ joint. We have quite a few here in Tyler, the problem is about half of them are inconsistent, sometimes you go and their food is great, the next time awful. What I have noticed is the pit master's at the franchise stores it seems like a new guy every time you go, I asked one of the young guys about that, he said that he had just started, never really cooked BBQ before, he told me "There is really nothing to it" you go to one of the other stores to train for a few days, and everything is laid out for you. I said like a schedule ? he said yes. you have a chart on how much and when to put what on, then you wait, look at the chart and it tells you when to pull it off, pretty easy. These are the big Auto Smokers (that's what I call them)  Most are gas fired with a place for wood to generate smoke. We have a couple of places that use real pits, as does Franklin. He has a great product because he is consistent. And like anything else you do if you do it enough you get good at it, develop an eye and touch to tell. Texas Monthly had a real good article, actually that month was about BBQ it talked about and rated the BBQ joints in Texas, but it also talked about the pit masters and how long and much experience they had. If you got up each day put on 5 or 6 briskets every day lets say for a year, you would probably would have learned by feel, looks and time, and be turning out some pretty darn good brisket.

    Gary         [​IMG]
  4. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    A good many of today's BBQ joints (especially the chain joints) use Southern Pride smokers or the like, with gas as you stated.  To me this just isn't the same as using a real pit.  That is why I am so fascinated with Franklin BBQ - Aaron uses five 1,000 gallon tank smokers.  Pretty impressive to manage 5 pits of that magnitude.  Think of the hot spots you'd have to deal with, along with each pit acting differently in it's own way.  Trying to manage all of that and still turning out great 'que every single time.  WOW.  Even though he has a couple of guys helping him watch the pits, its still impressive.

    I also read that Franklin tosses any meats that are less than their standards.  And he said that they certainly ruin good briskets, etc. with overcooking.  That's just the nature of the beast.  Seems he is focused on delivering a great product by doing what he loves rather than trying to just rake in cash.
    marauder likes this.
  5. ...And in the process he is raking in cash(or at least enough to make a living) and isn't that what we would all want?
  6. magslam

    magslam Smoke Blower

    Exactly. Nowadays, that "schedule" way of doing things goes as far as flying planes. The caching phrase "anybody can do it" sets the tone and people believe it. No surprise then having high pit master turnover and resulting with inconsistent quality.
  7. magslam

    magslam Smoke Blower

    There is nothing wrong the way Aaron is "raking" his cash. He's doing it the old fashion way. Hard work and accountability; is his name at his business door.
  8. magslam

    magslam Smoke Blower

    It takes an act of Congress to get where Franklin is today. And everything is so freaking expensive you have to think and overthink your way to make a profit, break even or at least not loose money.
  9. One of the last emails I got from Aaron Franklin he said he was in the process of adding his 6th smoker another 1000 gal. 

    I realize that you want to make money in any business you are in, if you don't you want be there long. I was in the steel erection and crane business, We had to complete our jobs on time and do a good job, but I stressed service. We wanted to be better than the other guy, along with that thank you attitude. And that really pays off, we would get a lot of extra and call backs without having to bud against the other guy.

    It has been several years, we use to do a lot of projects in the DFW area, I was up there checking on our jobs and stopped in a BBQ joint I haven't been to before. When I walked in the first thing I noticed was It didn't smell like a BBQ joint should and mostly school age kids working there. I decided to give it a try anyway, ordered the combo plate, the guy cutting the meat, weighed every piece he cut before putting it on the plate, when he got to the brisket he started taking some slices off, I asked him what he was doing, he said it was to much. I said "hey just forget it, if you are worried about giving a slice or two to much you don't need my business". He said the owner told him that business had been slow and not getting better, so they had to watch everything including cutting back on the portions. I said WOW you really think that will work? he shrugged his shoulders and said I just work here, not up to me. As I was leaving I thought if that was my place I would have been the one cutting the meat, loading up the plates and asking everybody how they liked it. About 5 or 6 months later I was in the same area and decided to go by and see if anything had changed, It had, it was a Chinese restaurant.

    marauder likes this.
  10. frosty

    frosty Master of the Pit

    Franklin's is a lot of hype, and granted they turn out good BBQ. People begin lining up at 7:30 AM like they are waiting on a parade to come by.

    If I remember correctly it is only open from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

    BUT, they are really catering to the hysteria that develops from desperation for a limitied supply of product. This is marketing genius. Happens in the Auto Industry, and can certainly happen with BBQ.

    Furthermore, they add to the situation by limiting amounts that they produce, and the hours that they are open. By limiting supply they can create buzz, and increase the rabid fans that will drive hours for a legend.

    Aaron is (by most accounts) a good guy, willing to continue to care about his craft, control quality, and still give to his community. He is willing to dispense knowledge of his methods and actions freely and doesn't do it in a back room. He basically has perfected the "Texas Crutch" method, and focused on quality.

    He is entitled to make a living at something he is good at and has taken a long time to perfect. That is a craftsman, whether you make cabinets, steel, bricks, or BBQ.

    That is the American Dream at it's finest. I for one, don't get involved in the the hysteria, and will make my own butcher paper wrapped brisket, and stay at home. That way, I can continue to feed family and friends, and enjoy what is important.

    God Bless and Good luck!
  11. magslam

    magslam Smoke Blower

    You know, where there's smoke, there's fire....
  12. There was, and still is a BBQ place in Dallas the old original Sonny Bryan's on Inwood Rd. It has since passed on to his kids who opened other locations. Back in the 70's I ate there on a regular basis. I asked Sonny why he didn't move to a bigger place or open another place.( Sonny always seemed happy, cutting meat, waiting on the customers and I remember him whistling, Loved what he was doing, and had some of the BBQ you ever tasted). Sonny said If I moved or opened another store, the first thing people would say is "It's not as good as it used to be"    and I make plenty of money right here. People who are from there or live there know what I am talking about when I say this is a very small place, and if not grandfathered in would never make the new building codes. Sonny sold BBQ till he ran out which was two or three o'clock , he may have had a little bit of the less popular items left. but never held brisket or ribs till the next day, didn't have to. It was that good. The place is still busy like that, but since Sonny passed it's not the same, quality is not as good. Sonny loved what he did and enjoyed the customers, now you get the feeling it's about money. 

    As I see it Aaron has a great product, selling a ton of BBQ has 6 pits, (that is a lot of meat) and is a marketing genius. He is a very personable guy who loves what he does. I have sent him a dozen or so emails asking a variety of questions he always answers back. This guy puts in a lot of hours every day and works hard, he should make a lot of money. Bottom line is if his BBQ was just so so it wouldn't take long for that long line to disappear. I really don't believe people will continue to wait in line for hours for average food. Around here when a new place opens it's crowded, everybody want's to try it. You know it good if after 6 months or a year it's still busy and people are waiting in line.

  13. raastros2

    raastros2 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    thats what bbq is about...the art of keeping it simple and taking the time of smoking it low and slow
  14. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    That's some story... The problem with many restaurants (and businesses in general) today is that they are focusing on trying to save money and cut corners where possible. On the one hand I understand, because businesses have to be profitable. Its a tough economy, people are spending less, we (both businesses and consumers) are owing more to the gov. every single year, and so on. But the pennies that restaurants and businesses are pinching won't make up for lost customers that get fed up with poor customer service and feeling like their money is getting squeezed.

    Good for Franklin BBQ that they are focused on delivering an excellent product even if it is an added expense .  Their growing customer base will far outweigh the dollars they would be saving by selling brisket that isn't 'just right' because they didn't want to lose a $70-$80 brisket.

    I'm sure that it is gut-wrenching to have to throw out a whole brisket, especially the quality that he sells.  But that brisket would end up serving 10-15 customers who just may not return if they feel like they aren't getting a top-quality product - and especially after waiting in line for 3 hours!!
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014
  15. magslam

    magslam Smoke Blower

    In addition to businesses focusing on saving money and cutting corners, they're definetaly focusing in a faster than light return for their investment. People want to apply stock market principles  and dinamics to everything. I have seen a firing range catering to "up scale" customers by charging top dollars for memberships and access. It is a risk; Sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. Most of the times is not right, but then that's why today's society is not like the one we enjoyed before; today everytihng is average. I am nothing but a number to any given business; they can't care less if I come back or not and it shows. As long as they made the "average" for the week, they do not want to know my or your name.

    What makes Franklin success special is the whole package; his old fashion approach to business and his priorities quality and service right on top. I am far from Austin, but If I were a local, I would frequent Franklin's BBQ store real early in the morning at least every other week.

    I wish him nothing but the best.
  16. Back when I was a young guy, I got out of construction for a while and into the Food industry. I started at a steak house, who cut their meat fresh each day, used choice beef and had a pretty small menu. They focused on quality and customer satisfaction. They had a great business that steadily grew. The owner open a second then a third location. I helped with all aspects of the third store and was made manager. We were steadily growing had a consistent customer base, Until the owners son got involved and started buying cheap meat and added a bunch of things to the menu that were also not quality type items. All three stores started loosing customers, and instead of going back to what had worked in the past, guess what, kept cutting quality and portion size. I complained as did the other managers but nothing changed. Eventually I figured it was just a matter of time before something major happened, so I put my feelers out to get back into construction (crane and rigging). I did and it wasn't long after till he started closing his stores, First was #2 than the one I ran and eventually the original. About that time or a little after I ran into the owner at a hotel I was staying at while looking at a rigging job. We had coffee and talked, he said he wish he would have never put his son in charge and stayed with his original concept. He said once everything started going bad, the money got tight and instead of just cutting his losses closing the last two stores and going back to what he new in the first place, he was trying to keep all three stores open. I told him I understood, sometimes it's a hard thing to realize what you need to do and go ahead and do it. I look back now and realize that not just his places but most places that served low quality, skimpy portions are no longer around. I know there are some fast food chains that put out a lot of low quality stuff but count on volume. Eventually you just see them disappear, I think people now days are more quality conscious than quantity conscious.  Pretty much everyone I know who doesn't mind spending money to eat out expects good food and a generous portion, me included.

  17. dls1

    dls1 Smoking Fanatic

    I came across an online article about Franklin recently where the author cited some interesting numbers from an interview with Aaron:

    "So here’s what it takes to run what many consider to be the best barbecue joint in the country:

    Time Aaron gets to work when he’s cutting brisket: 6:00 a.m.

    Time Aaron gets to work when he’s cooking: 1:00 a.m.

    Hours a day Aaron’s on the job: 14. “That doesn’t count the welding of cookers and other stuff. I’m physically here 14 hours a day, but once I leave here I’m still working. It never stops!”

    Hours a day the cookers are fired up: 24

    Cords of post oak wood Franklin goes through a week: 4.86

    Pounds of meat Franklin goes through a week: 7,637, based on our calculations Saturday

    Hours it takes to cook brisket: 15

    Time the line starts: 6 a.m. on Saturdays. “It’s too early! I tell people to go sleep in their cars and I’ll come knock on the door when we’re ready, but they want to be first. It’s like everyone is trying to one-up each other!” 8:00 a.m. on weekdays, “which is still absurd. I mean, come on, it’s not cronuts over here…”

    Average wait, in hours: 3 (4-5 on Saturdays)

    Most amount of people in line at the time of opening: 400

    People who get to skip the line: 0

    Hours Anthony Bourdain waited in line: 2.5

    Time the door opens: 10:59 a.m."

    Time the first order is in: 11:00 a.m.

    Time the brisket sells out: 2:30 p.m.

    Number of briskets Aaron cooked before he opened: 20
  18. Aaron Franklins BBQ YouTube _  brisket! a good demo  and on PBS coming soon! He keepa it simple salt pepper and real BBQ over  Oak coals. good info
  19. backwoods bbq

    backwoods bbq Meat Mopper

    there is no doubt aaron franklin produces good bbq. I think it is very important to realize bbq is subjective to taste, is influenced by hype, and taste can often be influenced by anticipation, or others opinions before tasting it. One thing I would like to point out is, When was the last time a very small bbq joint outside of central texas wont first place in texas monthly? Sure there are a lot of good places in smaller towns that make the list Tylers BBQ here in my town of Amarillo, texas made the cut this last issue. His brisket is just as good as franklins, cost around the same 19.95 lb sliced 13.95 chopped. I am convinced he uses black angus prime like franklin. He uses different wood, but smokes his brisket similar to franklin and uses all wood smoker without gas. he sells out everyday. I often wonder if a place in a small town outside central texas will ever win? The judges texas monthly use hit a lot of texas que joints but im sure that the local tweets, and facebook posts of local spots given them an automatic advantage over the less known joints. IMO I think that texas monthly is slowly turning the restaurant side of bbq into more of a "bbq competition" judged not only by taste but by geographical biased pre-determinations. Im not knocking aaron franklin. I look up to the guy, I just think since a bbq joint is not also being judged by initial smells, sights, types of pit used, all the visual appetizers  that go along with a bbq joint. Why not judge the bbq blind? just like a bbq competition where you don't know who smoked the meat you are judging solely by the way the meat taste, visual appearance of it, etc. Consistency does play a part, once you are on top or on the list you have to be even more consistent  with your Q to stay. This being said, restaurants in and around Austin texas that have claimed the #1 spot in past history have dropped in quality and service and still make top 50 somehow (hype, legacy, hysteria call it what you want) and I have eaten at small hole in the wall restaurants in towns of 1200 people that taste way better than restaurants say in Llano, texas and never make the list. I feel the name of a restaurant and the hype it comes with should not pre-determine the score they give for someone's brisket :) 
  20. wow 19.95 a lb an;does 1500 lbs a day ;i call that pretty good margin money! no wonder there are so many BBQ joints in Texas Oklahoma Kansas Missouri. the consistency ;based on the grade of beef pork .. Prime &;angus choice;. ultimately the good ones ;that hit the mark daily &; stay ;on what works demographically ;feed the masses with ;quality........ avoid the &;greed that; ruins;a "good BBQ Joint" ;by. making MORE MONEY by cutting corners ! ;GOOD BBQ is what sells . the consumer today can produce what the average BBQ joints can put out.... the free market rules!

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