If you live on the outskirts of Austin, your suburb might be the new target for barbecue joints looking to open in Travis County. That is if prospective restaurateurs see a new resolution from the Austin City Council as too onerous. It requires that barbecue smokers (and other wood-fired cooking devices) be placed at least 100 feet from adjacent residential property lines, or that they “mitigate the impact of smoke emissions” on their neighbors.
And, yeah, this is serious:
The proposed code change would require any restaurant or food truck using “a wood or charcoal burning stove or grill” within one hundred and fifty feet of residential zoning to install an exhaust system known as smoke scrubbers. [Pitmaster* Aaron] Franklin estimates the cost of such a system would run between $15,000 and $20,000, which he says is not an option for even his hyper-successful business. “Cost aside, the barbecue would not be the same—it would modify how the cooker smokes,” Franklin says. “If this resolution passes, we would be forced to close or move. It would destroy Austin barbecue.”
When talking to Texans, I get the impression that the state in general tolerates – with a certain fond contempt – the People’s Republic of Austin largely because the hippies, hipsters, and weirdos at least know how to cook properly**. Taking away the major reason for that tolerance seems… unwise.
*That’s what the article called him earlier, and they weren’t being ironic about it.
**Texans take this seriously. Almost as seriously as they do high school football. And that is pretty much their state religion.