Barbecue Cook John Mueller Finds Himself in Another Tough Spot

The pitmaster at the well-regarded JMueller BBQ trailer in Austin was fired by his sister, who also filed a police report accusing him of theft. 
Fri November 2, 2012 1:13 am

Months ago, barbecue cook John Mueller said he wanted an end to the drama in his life. Back in 2000, he left the iconic Louie Mueller Barbecue, in Taylor, to strike out on his own. But only five years after opening a barbecue joint in Austin, money troubles and personal demons brought the business to an end. He dropped out of the scene. Most people thought he’d never return. Rumors swirled. Then in 2011, he opened a trailer with his sister in South Austin, predicting brighter days ahead.

It seemed, for a while, that they were. On the first day JMueller BBQ was open, he sold out of meat in two hours and business has been gangbusters since then.

Unfortunately, John’s own sunny days are currently proving elusive.

John’s sister, LeAnn Mueller, has confirmed that she filed a police report yesterday afternoon against her brother, accusing him of embezzlement. Suffice it to say, LeAnn, who owns the business, fired John. (Full disclosure: LeAnn is a contributing photographer for  Texas Monthly. )

When the news about John’s less-than-amicable departure was made public, John and LeAnn’s brother Wayne, who mans the Louie Mueller Barbecue Twitter account, didn’t wait long to comment:

John, who we contacted, said he would not comment on his sister’s allegation. We are currently interviewing and gathering documents regarding LeAnn’s accusations and will publish more information as soon as we’re able. 

JMueller BBQ trailer was closed yesterday and will remain so through Friday. On Saturday, when the trailer re-opens, John Lewis, former pit master at Franklin BBQ, will take the helm. Lewis has been working at Mueller’s trailer for the past month—a decision that raised some eyebrows since Franklin and Mueller were competitors. (Aaron Franklin worked for John years ago, as I wrote about back in February .) Lewis, ostensibly, wanted to learn another cooking style before leaving town to start his own venture out of state. Now, according to LeAnn, Lewis has agreed to be pitmaster for a few more months before pursuing his own enterprise. 

LeAnn says she wants the story to end some other way. “I thought he was going to redeem himself,” she said. “I played part in it. And this is how it all goes down. I wanted my brother to have something this time. But I’m not going down.”

The police investigator will decide the next step. 

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