AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austinites rallied around a popular east Austin barbecue restaurant that was a fixture in the community for 62 years. But everyone has a price.
The restaurant at 2000 E 12th Street famously turned down millions from developers intending to tear the restaurant down but with community support, Sam’s BBQ remained open.
“We are old-school, we don’t have steaks and all that stuff, we have straight barbecue,” Mays said of his much-loved restaurant.
The first offer owner Brian Mays got was $3.5 million for the restaurant that is less than 10 minutes away from downtown Austin.
“They were telling me to take the money and run with it,” he said jokingly. But he refused.
The next offer made was up to $5 million. Mays struggled with this one. “Everything’s going up,” he said. “Your rent, your property taxes.” But he still refused the cash.
Rising property values is an ongoing issue in east Austin. It’s forcing families to sell their homes because they can’t afford the taxes. The city is looking at several plans to help.
Next month they will provide an analysis to City Council of what’s being called the “People’s Plan.” It recommends things like a Low Income Housing Trust Fund and “Right to Stay” and “Right to Return” programs which would help families priced out of the area move back into their old neighborhoods.
Mays said the money is appealing but will stick around for a while.
“I’ve got love for this community,” he said. If you’ve been in business 43 years in the community, you gotta love that community because they have supported you for years. You can’t just give up on them. You can’t just walk out on them.”
Yet, at the end of the day, everyone has a price.
“I think $10 million would make me move really fast,” he said smiling. “I wouldn’t even hesitate. If I can get myself and my brothers a million dollars a piece, we are out of here.”
Mays said he’s not sure when new offers might come, but until then, he’s happy to keep the pits smoking.