Sams Bbq V

Three Generations of East Side Smokers

Brian Mays - Sam's BBQ

“You don’t need no teeth to eat my beef” are words to live by in East Austin. They are also indelibly scribed on the side of iconic Sam’s BBQ. Sam Campbell’s legacy of smoking Texas staples to perfection and even some oddities such as lamb have served Austin’s East Side since 1957. Dan Mays Sr. took over Sam’s BBQ after Campbell passed in 1976. Today Mays Sr’s son Brian carries on the legacy of this home-style Austin institution.

Brian Mays, Sam’s grandson, came to Austin after serving his country in Vietnam.

There’s pride in carrying the Sam’s BBQ name into its third generation. Mays, throughout his life, has been a jack of all trades. He worked for cap metro, local schools, but he had always wanted to own his own business. “That’s it,” he says. “I had to have and run my own business. That’s all there is.”

Beyond legacy, Mays’ love for barbeque in unwavering--almost. “There’s nothing better. Except maybe snow cones.” he says. “If I couldn’t do barbeque, maybe I’d do snow cones.” Mays’ litmus test for barbeque is simple: “You have to be able to eat it with no teeth” says Brian, who is toothless himself. He is uncompromising in his methodology. “Once I had a mascot. They put teeth in his mouth, so I fired him. If there’s one thing about Sam’s barbeque it’s that you don’t need no teeth.” If that’s not pure quality control, we don’t know what is.

Being an indispensable part of Austin’s east side for over four decades makes Mays the man to talk about the neighborhood. “Oh, it’s changing, but I like it. It used to be a black neighborhood, now it’s mixed. I get to meet new people.” The neighborhood may change, but the ‘que will stay the same.

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