It’s not breaking news that la Barbecue pitmaster John Lewis is working to open a new barbecue joint in Charleston, South Carolina. He announced his intentions late last year, and Lewis Barbecue will open later this year. That means John Lewis will be spending a lot of time in Charleston. He has an apartment there, and flies back and forth on a regular basis. “Once we open [in Charleston] I’ll pretty much be there full-time” he told me via text message.

In response, la Barbecue promoted current employee Esaul Ramos to Head Pitmaster a couple weeks back. Viv Savage alerted me to the change via Twitter, and it’s been confirmed with John Lewis and la Barbecue’s general manager Ali Clem. They have great faith in Ramos, but he credits Lewis. “John is a phenomenal teacher.”


Ramos is new to commercial barbecue, but has been a passionate backyard cook for some time. “I fell in love with barbecue when I was eighteen.” Twelve years later (he just turned thirty), the passion is showing. He found the job at la Barbecue a year ago on Craigslist, but the position had already been filled. He left his resume anyway, and before long he got a call back. “I’ve always dreamt of working at a place like this,” and now he’s in a position he never dreamed of a year ago. The promotion has also given him reason to live closer to work. Ramos is a native of San Antonio. It was hard to leave his hometown, so he had been commuting into Austin every day. Last week he finally made the move to Austin. Hopefully that alarm can be set a little later now.