Problems at Austin's Pizza, Peached Tortilla primed for TV, and – what else? – barbecue news
By the time Austin's Pizza owner J.D. Torian called me from his own office phone at the end of last week, he was finally able to see the silver lining around the AT&T snafu that cut off vital phone service to his 12 pizza outlets for several days, costing him tens of thousands of dollars in sales. "Eighty percent of our business is phone orders, so there's no way to say exactly how much money we lost," Torian said. "Online ordering really saved us. People had to work harder to order pizzas, but they did it, and when the phones came back on, they rang nonstop. The other cool thing that happened was that after the story broke [in the Austin Business Journal], I heard from people in the industry, offering to help any way they could. There wasn't anything anyone could do, but the calls made me aware of our value in the community, and that felt good." Torian's AT&T rep has promised to let him know just what triggered the costly series of intermittent shut-offs. For the moment, the company's plans to open another local store this summer are on hold.
Now that barbecue lovers have digested Texas Monthly's quinquennial Top 50 list and paid homage to newly anointed Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn on his triumphal statewide book tour, I thought there might be a breather, but no. Last week marked the launch of TMBBQ.com with Vaughn anchoring the franchise, dubbed the hub for the magazine's "ramped-up barbecue madness." They are promoting the first in a series of TMBBQ Road Trips (Saturday, June 1 to Snow's, Louie Mueller Barbecue, and Franklin), the already sold-out Texas Barbecue Pop-Up in NYC with Aaron Franklin and Shiner Beer on June 6, and the first ever Texas Barbecue Week, July 15-19. I was pleased to see almost all my personal favorites made the Texas Monthly Top 50 this year (I'm curious about what's going on at Smitty's), but the coolest aspect of the whole shootin' match was observing the three listed Mueller siblings' outfits (Louie Mueller Barbecue, La Barbecue, and John Mueller Meat Co.) congratulating each other via Twitter. Can't help but feel their father and grandfather would be proud.
Peached Tortilla food truck entrepreneur Eric Silverstein isn't sure how his business was chosen as one of 20 nationwide contestants in Live With Kelly & Michael's Truckin' Amazing Cook-Off, but when a producer called a few weeks ago saying he had 24 hours to submit a video about his business, he got busy. "We sent them a video, and I guess their viewers voted for us. We found out last week we're in the top ten," he said. Now every Friday until the end of July, a different contestant will prepare a signature dish on the popular syndicated talk show and viewers will be encouraged to vote for their favorites. Four finalists will be chosen from the online votes and then compete in another cook-off before a panel of judges to win a $20,000 prize. Silverstein flies to NYC on June 11 for taping, but no word yet when his barbecue brisket taco segment will air. We'll keep you posted.
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