Texas Barbecue Icon Rick Schmidt Passes Away

Former Kreuz Market owner helped shape the Lockhart barbecue scene

Kreuz Market in Lockhart (photo by Dameon Hudson / CC BY 3.0)

Today Austin mourns the passing of Texas barbecue icon Rick Schmidt – one of the two Kreuz Market family scions who battled for control of the Lockhart barbecue scene back in the 90s.

The feud was so famous reporters compared Kreuz’ loss of their lease to the moving of the Alamo. According to a Facebook post from his son Keith, who bought the business from Rick in 2011, Rick passed peacefully in his sleep Monday night.

A champion of the indirect heat wood-fired pit, under Rick’s tenure Kreuz was as famous for their pit as for the meats themselves, with animal haunches hanging over the coals resembling (according some squeamish customers) a window into the gates of hell. This fiery spot is where Rick’s preferred cuts of brisket, ribs, and the celebrated housemade sausages would be left to smoke for hours at a time. Rick, a scrupulous man who was never without his clean white shirt and cowboy hat, was famous for his old school Texas barbecue passion and his strict adherence to tradition – Kreuz refused to offer either forks or barbecue sauce, insisting that their meat be enjoyed purely for its own virtues.

Rick was the second generation of Schmidt barbecue experts, inheriting the business after his father sold it to him back in 1984. According to local barbecue lore, this changing of the guard sparked a feud with his sister that ended with a ceremonial torch procession, bringing the never extinguished coals from the original Kreuz Market location across Lockhart’s main square to Rick’s new kitchen across town. The feud was resolved within Rick’s lifetime, when he partnered with his nephew to open Schmidt’s Family Barbecue in Bee Cave back in 2012.

Schmidt will live on both in the memories of his former customers, and on the plates of barbecue fans who order the Rick Schmidt barbecue party package from Kreuz Market: five pounds of beef brisket, seven pounds of pork spare ribs, and 12 rings of sausage mailed anywhere in the country on dry ice. A fitting tribute to a celebrated practitioner of Texas barbecue, especially if you leave the barbecue sauce on the side.

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