Food-o-File

Where there's smoke ...

Aaron Franklin
Aaron Franklin (photo by John Anderson)

Barbecue Smoke Signals: During a week when nationally famous Austin pitmaster Aaron Franklin should be basking in the glow of his first nomination for Best Chef Southwest from the James Beard Foundation Awards and working to retrofit his original barbecue trailer into a takeout window to cut down on wait times at his restaurant, the affable young man has much more serious issues on his mind. Franklin is concerned about the future of one of our city's most valued authentic regional cuisines and biggest current tourist attractions: Texas barbecue smoked over wood fires. There have been complaints in some central city neighborhoods about barbecue smoke regularly being carried into homes, but the only complaints that have made the local news are from folks who live in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood directly above Terry Black's Barbecue (1003 Barton Springs Rd.). However, complaints prompted three City Council members and the mayor to request that staff craft a proposed ordinance that would require restaurants near residential neighborhoods to install some device on smokestacks that would mitigate smoke emissions. What concerns Franklin and owners of other barbecue restaurants and trailers is the possibility of the implementation of one-size-fits-all regulations that would level a heavy financial burden on all barbecue businesses, whether they've been the subject of complaints or not. "I'm not a political guy at all, not an activist; but I feel like somebody needs to stand up for barbecue in this town, and after what barbecue has done for me, it feels like I'm the one who should do it," Franklin told us. To that end, he spent his day off on Monday at city offices, giving Council staffers a crash course in barbecue fires and smoke emissions, and urging that the proposed ordinance be re-drafted. The new ordinance is on the City Council agenda today (Thursday, April 2). Franklin will be there to speak, and he hopes Austin barbecue lovers will join him.

Two local landmark restaurants mark 40 years in business in 2015. ThunderCloud Subs was Austin's first neighborhood sub shop when they opened back in April of 1975, and now the homegrown company has 30 outlets in Central Texas. This month, they're celebrating by rolling back prices to 1975 on a different original classic sub each week. Check out the great weekly deals at your favorite ThunderCloud. Fonda San Miguel (2330 W. North Loop) was the first American restaurant to serve the cuisines of Interior Mexico when the eatery opened here in 1975, touching off a significant change in the way Texans viewed Mexican food. Owners Tom Gilliland and executive chef Miguel Ravago have commemorated this important year with a large, elegant calendar featuring popular recipes from the restaurant illustrated with selections from their museum-quality Mexican folk art collection. We also understand there's to be a serious celebration coming up in October.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Aaron Franklin, Sabino "Pio" Renteria, Terry Black's Barbecue, ThunderCloud Subs, Miguel Ravago, Fonda San Miguel, Tom Gilliland

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