AUSTIN, Texas — Some locals are getting together every weekend to save Sam’s BBQ. The move is part of a larger effort to support black-owned businesses in an ever-changing East Austin.
“I’ve just seen parts of the original east side, kind of, be plucked out and be replaced,” said Erica Anthony-Benavides, one of the organizers who created the “Save Sam’s Saturdays” event.
The barbecue joint has been on East 12th Street since 1957. Brian Mays’ family has owned Sam’s since the 1970s. He said he recently rejected a $3.5 million offer from developers. Instead of taking the money, Mays said he’d rather stay and build unity.
“I don’t need the money, it ain’t about the money, baby. It ain’t about $3 million,” May said. “It’s about the love, that we have for each other in our community. Everybody’s moving over here and we have to show love.
Long lines marked the first of several “Save Sam’s Saturdays” this weekend. Austin resident Charlie Alvarez, said he grew up around the corner from Sam’s BBQ.
“You see everything changing around East Austin and it’s one of the places here thats still here,” he said.
Patrons said they hoped to keep the restaurant running, especially there are only a few black-owned businesses left. Native Austinite Hosie Washington said she saw the event on social media and feels inspired to visit the restaurant more.
“Austin is very unique, because there’s so many hole-in-the-wall spots and restaurants and businesses that are family-run and locally-owned,” said Austin resident Tamara Mixson. “That’s something that makes Austin special.”