Longtime Austin pitmaster and music supporter Art Blondin has recently resurfaced. A few years after the closure of his beloved Artz Rib House, Blondin is back in the barbecue business in an historic Florence building that he discovered on Craigslist.
Blondin knocked around awhile after Artz closed. The last time we'd heard anything about him, he was working the pits at the venerable Hill's Cafe, in anticipation of opening a rib joint with the Winstanley brothers in a new building at the old Artz location. Though the Winstanleys will open Abel's Rib House (2330 S. Lamar)later this year, Blondin realized the project wasn't the right fit for him and struck back out on his own.
That's when he saw the old building in downtown Florence listed on Craigslist and took a drive to check it out. "It had everything I was looking for and the price was right. There's an offset smoker out back and plenty of room inside to add a stage for live music. There's even an apartment upstairs where I can stay when I'm out here smoking overnight."
Blondin is already back in business but he's just getting started on his long range plans. He's got a website in the works, he'll be applying for a beer and wine license, and he would love to get Bluegrass jams going again. Who knows, maybe the new Art's will become the home for the Austin Friends of Traditional Music, just like the original?
While I think offering cold beer and live Bluegrass music with barbecue are both great ideas, my main focus at Artz was always the definitively delectable St. Louis-style pork ribs: tender and smoky, perfectly porkilicious, they were always my go-to order at the original Artz. And yes, they're on the menu at the new spot. I haven't been back to the Williamson County burg of Florence since I taught school there briefly in the Seventies, but you can bet I'll be taking a nostalgic road trip very soon for some of those ribs!
Art's Ribs & BBQ
212 E. Main in Florence 254/793-2777
Friday & Saturday, 11am-8pm; Sundays, 11am-4pm; Monday & Tuesday, 11am-3pm
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