The tiny town of Whitney has been good to Flores Barbecue, co-owner and pitmaster Michael Wyont says first. "We love our Whitney customers and our loyal fans."
"But," he says, "it got to the point where it is hard to stay in business with just them."
All weekend, the company sold out on its most popular offerings like smoked brisket, smoked turkey and Spanish rice. And as of Sunday, Feb. 3, Wyont and his wife Hali Wyont closed Flores Barbecue, for good, in Whitney. They'll move it 60 miles north to Fort Worth, with hopes that a bigger city will mean bigger opportunity.
"We had small growth, but it was frustrating," Michael Wyont says. Especially since his restaurant is among the best 50 barbecue joints in the state, according to Texas Monthly's list.
But change has been a constant part of Flores Barbecue's short history. The business started as a barbecue trailer in San Marcos. The family pulled the trailer to Whitney in late 2016, then built a bricks-and-mortar restaurant after the Texas Monthly spotlight. Now it's on to Fort Worth, where Michael plans to re-open with a barbecue trailer at the Trailhead at Clearfork in April 2019. He hopes to place the trailer close to the site where the restaurant will be built; the opening date is expected to be January 2020.
Flores Barbecue combines Central Texas barbecue style with Michael's Hispanic heritage. He grew up driving from San Marcos to Lockhart for barbecue — a town lauded as the mecca for Central Texas barbecue because of longtime restaurants Kreuz Market, Black's Barbecue and Smitty's Market.
"I grew up loving that barbecue, but seeing that it was different than what my family would do in the backyard," Michael says.
Flores Barbecue is named after Michael's mother's maiden name, and he is proud that it pays homage to his grandfather, Luciano Flores, the first Hispanic mayor of San Marcos. With Michael's barbecue-Tex-Mex menu, he says, "I want to honor my family."
His menu is anchored by Central Texas staples like smoked brisket, rubbed with salt and pepper only. But unlike most other Central Texas barbecue joints, he also makes flour tortillas in-house and sells tacos filled with brisket or pulled pork. On Fridays, he sold pork carnitas with smoked serrano salsa and roasted tomatillo avocado sauce. On Saturdays, his Spanish rice was popular.
"Being half Hispanic, I grew up eating rice with traditional barbecue," Michael says. "When I started serving stuff with Spanish rice, people said, 'With barbecue?' But that's how I ate it growing up," he says. Another barbecue joint infusing Tex-Mex flavors into barbecue is Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ in Austin.
After Flores Barbecue reopens in Tarrant County, Michael says he'd like to beef up the Tex-Mex side of his menu even more.