BBQ Developments

Drama at the pit: John Mueller ousted as pitmaster of JMueller BBQ

Drama at the pit: John Mueller ousted as pitmaster of JMueller BBQ

LeAnn Mueller, owner of JMueller BBQ, told Eater Austin Wednesday morning that her brother, John Mueller, will no longer be the manager and pitmaster of the highly regarded South First eatery.

"John's out. He's never owned it. He decided to mismanage again," she told Eater, without specific details about what prompted his departure. "There shouldn't be this much drama."

John Mueller has earned a prominent reputation over the last few years for being one of the most accomplished pitmasters in town as well as one of the most demanding managers to work alongside.

Some attributed his gruff management style at the former John Mueller BBQ on Manor Road to an exacting commitment to excellence, but later it surfaced that Mueller's mood swings were likely a product of substance abuse issues.

After cleaning up and getting back on his feet with the help of friends like Aaron Franklin and family members like LeAnn, Mueller became pitmaster at the South First Street trailer one year ago. Reviews were stellar — Bourdain even stopped by during SXSW — and his comeback to the Austin culinary scene was a hands-down success.

"Everybody thought it would be a nice comeback story," LeAnn told Eater.

Mueller's overwhelming success upon his return at JMueller BBQ is precisely what is so heartbreaking about today's announcement. After all, he told The Austin American-Statesman back in May, "Failure is not an option."

JMueller BBQ will be closed Wednesday and Thursday (and possibly Friday) before LeAnn Mueller reopens with new pitmaster John Lewis, who moved from Franklin Barbecue to JMueller to learn from Mueller back in September.