In August of 2015 Leonard Botello and family opened up a tiny BBQ joint just outside of Brenham, Texas. There was no big grand opening, there was no meeting of the #BBQFam or podcasts, and no social media campaign. That is precisely how Leonard wanted to launch.
Bryan noticed the name change from "J's BBQ" (not to be confused with LJ's which was to open later) to "Truth Barbeque" as he drove back and forth from Austin to Houston. Gone were the old school rectangular pits and in their place was a large Klose pit. Curiosity prevailed and a stop there resulted in surprisingly good barbecue. Repeat visits proved it was not a fluke and the word began to spread.
By 2016 the word was out and lines began forming before open. In 2017 Truth landed a spot in the Texas Monthly top 10, cementing their name as one of the best barbecue joints in Texas. Plans were afoot to open a larger location in the heart of Houston's Heights neighborhood and by 2019 the almost impossibly small restaurant in Brenham had a big brother finally open.
The opening wasn't easy. Leonard wanted a quiet build but the location was identified and the demand for Truth Houston to open grew. Battling confusing and inconsistent health department enforcement and dialing in all new pits custom built for the Houston location while dealing with not just expanded cooking volume but additional business days took their toll. There was a lot of lost sleep and tweaking required to dial things in to where Leonard was satisfied with the quality.
A little after a year after opening Leonard is finally able to take a deep breath and step back a bit to enjoy what he, family, and team have built. We caught up with Leonard and Corey Taylor to find out what it was like to scale and transform a sleepy little barbecue joint into Truth BBQ Houston.
For additional background:
Visit Truth at their original location in Brenham, Texas or at their Houston location