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Vibe Out: Burns Original BBQ keeps community fed in times of need

Written by on March 1, 2021

If we had to sum up Burns Original BBQ up in one word, it would be “community,” because everyone knows that the Burns family steps up, not only during the holidays, but in times of crisis, to feed those in need.

It all started in 1973 when Roy Burns Sr. started off his small local business venture selling barbecue to Houston’s Acres Home community.

Not only did it become a Houston favorite, but the late great, world-renowned food critic Anthony Bourdain visited Burns several times and even featured its finger-lickin’ food on his show, “Parts Unknown.”

After Roy transitioned to the “great open pit in the sky,” his children and grandchildren continued to carry on the tradition of giving back to community.

Time and again we’ve seen thousands line up outside of Burns BBQ for a hot meal of what many say is the best darn barbecue you can find in Texas, and it was no exception after February’s historic winter storm.

Immediately after the historic Texas winter storm, Cory Crawford and his team, along with Boss Life Foundation, 1501 Certified Ent, World Central Kitchen and many volunteers worked tirelessly in the wee hours of the morning to provide guests with Bar-B-Que sandwich meals to enjoy.

While the DJ brought forth good music and good vibes informing guests that everything will be alright and dropping gems about financial and food assistance around the Houston area, volunteers handed meals to guests in the drive-thru line. In total, Burns Bar-B-Que served nearly 15,000 free meals to the community.

We talked with grandson Cory Crawford for this month’s “Vibe Out” feature.

Q: We know the background of how Burns BBQ was originally started, who is now keeping the family tradition alive?

A: The 2nd and 3rd Burns family generations are keeping the family tradition alive. My brother, Carl Crawford, and I are part owners now, and my son is a part of the 4th generation.

Q: Do you have any more locations, or any plans to move?

A: No, we don’t have any other locations right now. We are working on opening a Bistro inside of Kroger’s grocery store in Mid-April of this year.

Q: What do you feel is the best feature of your restaurant…the food or the atmosphere, or is it something else?

A: The best feature is actually the food and the atmosphere. The food is made with love and the atmosphere is a small, authentic old-school building and being in the Acres Home community makes it a great feature. So, I would say both.

Q: How have you adjusted during COVID-19? Is business still well?

A: We adjusted during COVID by closing the patios down and made most of the food to-go, which was kind of our style anyway. So, we really didn’t miss a beat during the pandemic. When it first hit, we adjusted our prices to get everybody coming in and then we were able to maintain after that.

Q: How do you feel about the renewed interest or national push of supporting Black businesses? Do you think it will be short-lived?

A: I’m very excited about it. I think it’s good for small businesses like myself and small businesses all over. I think it’s a great thing because, we get swept under the rug sometimes or overlooked. The renewed interest in highlighting us and making others more aware is very beneficial. This year after the 4th July when people really started supporting the Black-owned businesses, I saw my numbers increase tremendously, when usually that’s our slowest time. I don’t think it’s going to go away. I think people need to recognize that small businesses can thrive like everyone else.

Q: What do you do to give back to the community?

A: We always give back. We have a $10,000 scholarship giveaway to local high school students in the community. We have a 2,000 free meal giveaway for Thanksgiving each year. Whenever there is a natural disaster going on, we find ways to give back to the senior citizens. There’s a plethora of things we do on a regular basis as it’s been a family thing for years, it’s in our DNA.

Q: Any advice to entrepreneurs or small business owners fighting to stay afloat during these times?

A: Just hang on in there! Even if the times are hard right now, just know you don’t make it overnight, you won’t be successful overnight. So just stick to it and believe in your product and everything else will fall into place.

Burns Original BBQ is located in the historic Acres Home at 8307 1/2 De Priest Street Houston, Texas 77088.

Phone number: (281) 999-5559

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