Stubb’s Bar-B-Q founder inducted into BBQ Hall of Fame

State News

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Friends, family and customers of the late C.B. “Stubb” Stubblefield will celebrate the barbecue legend’s legacy in Austin Tuesday at a ceremony to welcome the pitmaster into the National Barbecue Hall of Fame.

Stubb opened his first restaurant in Lubbock in 1968, where it became a gathering place for up-and-coming musicians looking to make a name for themselves. He moved his barbecue pits to Austin in the 1980s, and started what would become a sauce empire here in the 1990s.

“I wish he was here to see how much the company’s grown,” said Rocky Stubblefield, Stubb’s grandson and brand ambassador for Stubb’s Bar-B-Q sauce.

Original bottles of Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Sauce featured labels the pitmaster glued on himself. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)

The line of sauces and marinades, now owned by the spice company McCormick’s, is available around the world, keeping Stubb’s legacy alive.

Rocky remembers his granddad’s Lubbock restaurant.

“He’d be at the restaurant all day, but then late at night he’d come home with trays of barbecue,” he said. “Just ribs and brisket and sausage on a big tray.”

The sauce company’s origins in the early 1990s were humble, and always a family affair. Stubb himself glued labels onto some of the first bottles, and Rocky’s brother was in charge of taping on the tops.

“I’m sure he’d be amazed how you can get Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Sauce almost anywhere in the world now,” Rocky said.

The pitmaster died in 1995, before his sauces attained a global reach and a year before the original restaurant moved to its current location on Red River Street. Rocky accepted the Hall of Fame award on his grandfather’s behalf in September.

Tuesday’s celebration starts with a VIP ceremony at 5 p.m. and a public concert at 7 p.m. at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q.

“It’s everybody coming together again as he would want it for live music and great barbecue,” said Stubb’s general manager Ryan Garrett. “That was his vision.”

Stubb’s Hall of Fame trophy, next to one of his signature denim hats, on display at the Red River Street restaurant. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)

The name game

The celebration comes as representatives for McCormick confirm to KXAN the venue will keep the name “Stubb’s” after years of back-and-forth over who could use the trademark and for what purposes.

Not long after the spice company acquired the barbecue sauce brand, it sued the restaurant’s ownership, claiming the venue did not have the rights to the name. Two years later, in the summer of 2017, the two sides reached a settlement that was supposed to lead to the restaurant changing its name.

But both sides kept talking, and a McCormick spokesperson told KXAN Monday they agreed to allow the Red River location to keep the “Stubb’s” name. The company has not spoken publicly about the agreement until now.

“It’s an iconic name; it’s an iconic location,” Garrett said. “It’s very important to maintain this property as Stubb’s Bar-B-Q for years and years to come.”

Stubb’s future

Rocky Stubblefield, now living in Leander, will continue preaching the gospel of Stubb’s around the country and around the world.

“We always talk about the sauce,” he said, “but we always tell them there’s a restaurant, too. We try to tell as many people out of state as we can to come visit the restaurant.”

It’s his granddad’s legacy, after all, one he intends to carry on long after Tuesday’s celebration.

“You have to touch a lot of people for them to think of you and put you in the Hall of Fame.”

Other Hall of Fame inductees

American Royal, an annual rodeo, stock show and barbecue competition in Kansas City, runs the National Barbecue Hall of Fame. The group inducts three new members each year.

The other two inductees for 2019 are from Alabama and North Carolina.

Last year, Tootsie Tomanetz, the now-84-year-old pitmaster at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Tex., was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Her work at the restaurant east of Austin was named the best barbecue in the state by Texas Monthly, despite the fact that it’s only available one day a week.

When she’s not cooking, Tomanetz still works about 30 hours a week at a local school district.

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April 29 2021 07:00 pm