Big Numbers

Owner of Sam's Bar-B-Cue offered millions to leave East Austin property

Owner of Sam's BBQ offered millions to leave East Austin property

Sam's BBQ Barbecue Austin
The owner of Sam's Bar-B-Cue says he was offered $3.5 million to sell his restaurant. Photo courtesy of Sam's Bar-B-Cue

KVUE — An East Austin business owner is turning down millions to keep his business alive.

Brian Mays owns Sam’s Bar-B-Cue on East 12th Street. From big-name visitors such as former President Bill Clinton to local artists, Sam’s has been serving the East Austin community for decades.

Mays said it's been around since 1962.

"I love Sam's,” said Ricky Hart, a customer. “I've been coming here all my life. My momma used to tell me go get $5 worth of hot sauce, so here I am. I'm still here."

Its rich history could soon be coming to an end as developers are eyeing his land.

"Last October, I turned down $3 million, before that, I turned down $2.5 million,” said Mays.

He said the highest offer was just days ago, when he was offered $3.5 million. He said developers want to tear down his family-owned business and build a new apartment complex or condos.

Despite the large offers, he's still saying no. "When the community loves you, you gotta show love back,” said Mays. “I don't want to sell out for the community right now."

Mays said the historically black community once saw hundreds of black-owned businesses, but now his is one of the last few.

“There ain’t no more than 10 now,” said Mays. “It ain’t about money, it's about us being in unity."

“They’re just pushing us further back east you know, so we don't have nowhere else to go after that,” added Hart. “This is it. Once this is gone, there will be no more."

So, for the sake of the community, Mays said he'll work to keep his business running, as long as he has the community's support.

“If everybody stands behind me, no, I’m not going nowhere,” said Mays.


To read the full story and watch the video, head to KVUE.