SRF x Southside Market
Southside Market in Elgin, Texas has been around a long time. A real long time. Founded in 1882 by William J. Moon, it’s the oldest operating barbecue restaurant and meat market in Texas. The next oldest came 18 years later. Put in perspective, Chester A. Arthur was President of the United States and the United States consisted of only 38 states. Places don’t stay in business that long if they don’t know what they’re doing. And people don’t support them if they’re not special or offer something unique.
Over its 140-year history, the family operating Southside Market has changed, but there’s no denying it’s place in Texas barbecue history, paving the way for many other places that have long come and gone. And in a state where God, football and barbecue are paramount, and sometimes not in that order, that’s saying a lot.
Today, Bryan and Rachel Bracewell own and operate Southside Market, but that’s not how it all started for Bryan at the market, which has been in the family since 1968 when Bryan’s grandparents acquired the business. Coincidently, this is the same year Robert Rebholtz founded AgriBeef.
When Bryan was twelve, he started cleaning tables, stacking crates and mopping floors at the market. This continued throughout high school. In college at Texas A&M, where he studied Meat and Food Science, he’d return to Southside during summer, Christmas and spring breaks to help the family in the market. During his time in college, he was a student employee at Rosenthal Meat Science and Technology Center and was on the Meat Judging team.
After graduating with a Food Science degree in 1998, he returned home and to the market to manage the sausage and meat processing plant, along with their harvesting facility and overseeing the barbecue operation on weekends. Over the next twelve years Bryan built his business acumen to match industry knowledge, setting the stage for him and Rachel to purchase the business from his grandparents in 2010, making them the 7th owners of the business since its founding.
Tall and imposing, Bryan is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. It’s pretty easy to pick him out in the market. He’s typically the tallest guy in the building, adorned with cowboy boots, blue jeans and a Southside Market cap and shirt.
One visit to Southside Market and you’ll feel at home. If he’s not there to greet you, one of his staff will, warmly. Inside, you’ll be surrounded by locals. Lots of them. Many who’ve been frequenting Southside Market for years, some decades even.
Bryan knows most his regulars orders and makes it a point to say hello to all the tables. His title may be President and CEO now, but ask him what he enjoys most at work and he’ll tell you, “working the floor, serving our guests.” Recently, I had the chance to speak with Bryan about Southside Market and their new partnership with AgriBeef.
Southside Market has been around a long time. What makes it special?
Southside is special because of the folks on our team and the guests that we serve. We’re proud of our 140-year history, the all-beef Original Elgin Hot Sausage that we have served during all those 140 years, the authentic Central Texas BBQ that we make and serve, and the fact that we do all of that in my hometown but those are just the details, it’s really about the people.
Over those years, what has changed? What's remained the same?
We still make authentic Central Texas BBQ. It starts with quality meat and a simple dry rub – salt & pepper on the brisket, post oak wood fires, and time/patience. It’s the same sausage since the early days. We’re still the family- owned business that strives to put our team 1st, serve our guests with humility, and is serious about remaining a pillar in our community by contributing time and sausage where possible but we have undergone some growth. We now sell our meats in grocery stores across the State of Texas, in restaurants across the US, online, and in other Central Texas communities in addition to Elgin (Bastrop, Austin, Hutto) with more in the plans. We still strive to put people first and provide premium quality food with excellent customer service, and hospitality that’ll make you want to come back soon while honoring our history, our heritage, and those who have built this business over the years. Today, Rachel and I see ourselves as the current stewards of the oldest BBQ joint in the State of Texas and if we do our job correctly, it’ll be here for someone else to oversee 140 years from now.
Why is Elgin known as the Sausage Capital of Texas?
Elgin is the Sausage Capital of Texas due to the popularity of our Original Elgin Hot Sausage. It’s all beef with a natural pork casing, it’s coarse ground, and really it’s just a simple Texas BBQ sausage. This sausage put us on the map and we still make it fresh daily with pride.
How do you cook the brisket at Southside Market?
Our Brisket is smoked low and slow only using salt and pepper and real wood fires fueled by Texas Post Oak logs that come from our home base of Bastrop County. Low and slow means with indirect heat at a pit temperature of 210-225 degrees F until we reach an internal temperature of 195-200 degrees F. This process takes anywhere from 10-16 hours depending on the size of the Brisket and there are no shortcuts.
Why partner with Snake River Farms?
Partnering with SRF is a natural fit for us first of all due to the great folks that we get to work with who have a familiar family history and legacy in the meat business. They too started in 1968 and they too put people and quality first. It’s actually a privilege to get to smoke and process their super high-quality meats. What they do on the front end, makes my job so much easier on the back end and when it all comes together – it’s special! SRF is known for quality and we’re proud to showcase who we are right alongside them and play a small role expanding Authentic Central Texas BBQ to new markets.