Agape BBQ offers a unique experience
By ANTHONY FLORES
As Liberty Hill continues its rapid growth, more and more dining options are becoming available for the community. Joining the influx of new restaurants, Agape BBQ is bringing traditional Texas barbecue into the mix.
Originally Archer BBQ in Cedar Park, the transition to Agape BBQ began when founder Jeremy Archer partnered with Brandon Reinoehl.
“It was a little kiosk in a Cedar Park. My lease was up in March, the weekend that the world shut down. At that point, I had a decision to make. Do I renew the lease and with everything going on with COVID? I decided no because it just wasn’t smart,” said Archer. “I pretty much came to the point where I was trying to decide if I go back into the career world or keep pursuing this. I started looking for jobs, and Brandon was a regular customer of mine. He came every Friday. He heard I was hanging it up and came to me and asked if I’d be interested in partnering and continuing down this path.”
Reinoehl, feeling the time was right to chase his passion, decided this was an opportunity he couldn’t let slip through his hands.
“Barbecue is just a big passion of mine, and that’s where it was coming from,” said Reinoehl. “The opportunity was there, I was ready to move on from my job in sales, and my kids are grown. We had the opportunity to do this, and several factors brought us together. It’s been a great fit all around.”
A close friend to Reinoehl, Lonnie Wendling joined on as a business manager, completing the barbecue trinity.
“Brandon and I have been friends for several years, and we’ve been talking about wanting to do something entrepreneurial. When God brought Brandon and Jeremy together, and they started heading down this path, there was some talk. My passion is craft beer, and my wife’s passion is coffee, so we were thinking about not a brewery but a craft beer and coffee kind of thing. We set that aside and noticed the opportunity for Jeremy and Brandon to be able to focus on the operations. We’d take my executive business background and focus on the business side.”
Falling into place
While searching for a location in Liberty Hill, an opportunity presented itself in the form of the McGintys — Josh, and Ellen — the owners of Agape Java. Initially interested in the home for sale next to Agape Java, the trio was presented with an offer from the McGintys to merge two ideas into one. A coffee shop in the morning and a BBQ restaurant for the rest of the day.
“When we ended up meeting the McGintys, and they opened up that door, God just brought everything back together. It just all fit together. Even though they’re stepping out, we’re carrying their hearts with us.”
With a large backyard area with oak trees providing shade, plenty of room to accommodate guests, and a stage for live music, the barbecue trio is looking forward to offering the community more than food. They want to give them experience.
“Before Lonnie came into the picture, Brandon and I were driving around Liberty Hill. We got a Realtor to drive us around and look at properties. We were running the gambit. Our desire was because we have a good barbecue product, we also wanted to have the experience with it. It had to be a destination type of location.”
Taking over the business that is also Ellen McGinty’s family home brings a responsibility to honor their friends as best they can. The trio is more than willing to tackle that obstacle.
“This is her family home, so there’s a lot of responsibility to carry that legacy forward,” said Reinoehl.
Archer prefers a simple but effective approach to barbecue. Liberty Hill residents can expect a product where the meat’s natural flavors shine through and speak for itself.
“With all barbecue, I like to keep everything simple and let the meat and flavor profiles of the meat themselves come out,” said Archer. “Some people will put a rub on that has 20 or 30 different ingredients, there’s nothing wrong with that, and it makes a great product, but I want the flavor of the meat to come out. The best way I’ve found for that to happen is the old Texas-style way of doing it with just salt and pepper.”
Agape BBQ’s trio firmly believes in meeting a high standard of only using the highest quality meat to serve the best possible product.
“The major thing that I’ve found is that you have to start with the highest quality meat. We will always use prime, certified Angus beef. It’s a standard that we have all accepted,” said Archer. “That’s where it starts, with the best cut of meat. That’s what we use. You’re also a little more careful when you’re dealing with a piece of meat that might cost twice as much as another one. You tend to check the fire a little more often when you have that kind of money out there.”
The trio believes in keeping a simple and easy to read menu that they can perfect before expanding. Limited items will be offered on weekends to keep the menu fresh but not bloated.
“To start, we’re going to be open during the day. We anticipate the demand is going to push us into evening hours pretty quickly. We’ll have specials on Friday and Saturday or one of the two days. We’ll have beef ribs, pork loins, pork steaks and things like that that aren’t on the menu as a standard rotation.”
A significant part of barbecue is complimenting it with sides and beverages. Customers can expect to have various rotation craft beer options as well as some traditional and non-traditional sides.
“We’re going to have the standards, a mustard-based potato salad. There’s a couple of sides people go crazy over. We have our twist on pinto beans that are more like a cowboy or charro type of bean. They love the beans. We’ll also have a hatch green chili mac and cheese. We’re also looking at having elotes, some Mexican street corn.”
For those worried about their morning coffee disappearing in this transition, there are zero plans to remove the coffee aspect. Guests will have the option of coffee and breakfast during the morning hours. To remain consistent, Agape BBQ is bringing on the staff already in place.
“It’s a new world for us. Luckily, we were smart enough, and Josh and Ellen were gracious enough to integrate their staff with us. We’re keeping all the coffee knowledge through their staff.”
Agape BBQ will host its soft opening today, Oct. 8, and officially open its doors Saturday, Oct. 10.
For more information and menu options, Agape BBQ is on Facebook and Instagram.