LeAnn Mueller thought she was done with barbecue. After growing up in a famous barbecue family, she pursued a photography career that brought great success, including a dozen or so Texas Monthly covers. She wasn’t big on barbecue road trips until she shot the 2008 Texas Monthly Top 50 issue and ate her way around the best barbecue joints in the state. That included her family’s place in Taylor, Louie Mueller Barbecue, which her father, Bobby, ran at the time. Four years later, much to her surprise, she was back in the barbecue business, providing financial backing for her brother John Mueller at JMueller BBQ. Their partnership didn’t last.
La Barbecue emerged in Austin almost overnight after the business arrangement between family members failed. LeAnn, John Lewis, and Ali Clem reopened the well-respected barbecue trailer with the new name and quickly turned the business into one of the state’s best barbecue destinations. Lewis has gone on to South Carolina to run his own place, while Mueller and Clem have spent six years finding the right home for the business. After moving their trailer all over Austin, they’ve settled nicely into their current spot inside the Quickie Pickie on East Cesar Chavez.
Ali and LeAnn are now more than business partners—they married in New York in 2014. We talked in the studio about their barbecue success in Austin and why it didn’t translate to Los Angeles. We also discussed their goal of feminizing barbecue and what that means for the women in barbecue families who don’t often get the credit they deserve.