J-Bar-M BBQ stage

As first reported by the Houston Chronicle, acclaimed pitmaster Willow Villareal and chef Jasmine Barela (who’re additionally a pair) have give up J-Bar-M, the comparatively new barbecue restaurant in EaDo that garnered acclaim in a brief interval. It opened in November 2021 and, amongst different honors, made Houston Meals Finder’s Best New Houston Restaurants of 2021 listing simply earlier than we closed it for the yr. It additionally was the setting of a current episode of Top Chef: Houston.

Willow Villareal
Willow Villareal again when he was working his personal meals truck. Photograph by Scott Sandlin.

An announcement from proprietor John Toomey, beneath, signifies that maybe the pitmaster and chef had completely different visions for the restaurant than the homeowners. Moreover, like so many eating places, evidently J-Bar-M has additionally battled provide chain and labor shortages, in addition to inflated prices of beef and different substances.

“Whereas we had some operational variations with Willow and Jasmine, we’re deeply grateful for the time and coronary heart they’ve devoted to J-Bar-M Barbecue. Our plan was at all times to increase the restaurant to incorporate night service and a extra intensive bar program so we may provide visitors extra of a dinner expertise. Like many different space eating places, we now have struggled with labor shortages, meals prices and provide chain points all through 2022. Whereas we didn’t all agree on the operational modifications we wanted to make for the restaurant, we now have a shared ardour and dedication to Texas barbecue. The hospitality trade is sort of a huge household, and whereas we’re unhappy to see Willow and Jasmine go, we help their resolution and want them the perfect in all their future endeavors.”

The Houston Chronicle additionally reported that “J-Bar-M has additionally parted firm with its normal supervisor and a front-of-the-house guide.”

barbecue meats with vegetable sides
A plate of deliciousness at J-Bar-M Barbecue in EaDo. Photograph by Phaedra Prepare dinner.

For the 2021 Greatest New Eating places listing, I held nothing again when it got here to reward for the fledgling barbecue joint, citing “moist brisket was bisected with a layer of meltingly tender fats,” “housemade jalapeño cheddar sausage [with] a casing that snapped briskly upon the primary chunk” and “merely good” pork ribs. That mentioned, I didn’t see both Villareal or Barela onsite throughout my go to. Whereas it’s nearly sure that they developed the methods and recipes, artwork of a restaurant’s success hinges on whether or not it may well nonetheless operate easily with simply the common workers.

Villareal first established his repute as a barbecue master worth watching together with his meals truck. After serving at a number of completely different bar parking heaps, Villareal closed the truck in March 2019 and disappeared from the Houston barbecue scene for a number of years. (It turned out he’d additionally been coping with well being points.) His huge re-emergence was when J-Bar-M opened. There’s little revealed info on Barela’s background and expertise as a chef, however little question about J-Bar-M’s excellent sides and desserts, such because the old school banana pudding and Chocolate Ganache Pie worthy of a French bakery.

We requested remark from Villareal, and likewise requested who’s stepping in as interim pitmaster and chef. We are going to replace this text ought to we obtain further info.

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