Pflugerville, Round Rock business owner John Brotherton makes a priority of helping community

John Brotherton co-owns Liberty Barbecue in Round Rock and Brotherton's Black Iron Barbecue in Pflugerville. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
John Brotherton co-owns Liberty Barbecue in Round Rock and Brotherton's Black Iron Barbecue in Pflugerville. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

John Brotherton co-owns Liberty Barbecue in Round Rock and Brotherton's Black Iron Barbecue in Pflugerville. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

John Brotherton is a restaurateur and barbecue aficionado—he owns Brotherton’s Black Iron Barbecue in Pflugerville and is a co-owner of Liberty Barbecue in Round Rock—but for many, he is much more than a local businessman.
Pflugerville City Council recently proclaimed Nov. 9 John Brotherton Day in the city of Pflugerville.

While reading the proclamation at a City Council meeting, Mayor Victor Gonzales acknowledged Brotherton’s recent accolade in Texas Monthly, in which he made the list of the top 50 barbecue restaurants in the state for 2021, but the commendation went well beyond that achievement.

“John cares about his community and regularly raises money for those in need and feeds our first responders,” Gonzales said.

For the last several years, Brotherton has provided food and other assistance at events communitywide at no charge, Gonzales said.

Brotherton said he has always loved barbecue, but it was not until his move to Pflugerville in 2001 that he purchased his first barbecue pit.

“I recall, one day I was cooking on it and the bottom fell out of the firebox,” he said. “That’s how much use it got.”

In 2013, he said, •Texas Monthly• released its top 50 barbecue joints list for that year, and he and his wife ended up visiting all of the restaurants on the list.

“I knew barbecue was where I needed to be,” he said.

As he kept building his reputation and brand, a local social media group called Pflugerville Pfoodies helped propel him to popularity, he said.

“I cooked a brisket for somebody, and they liked it and talked about it on there,” he said. “The next thing you know, I’m getting more and more orders.”

From there, he opened Brotherton’s Black Iron Barbecue in 2017, and a year later he helped open Liberty BBQ in Round Rock.

Alongside his status in the Pflugerville business community, Brotherton has gained a reputation for philanthropy.

Much of that comes from his drive to champion other restaurants.

When Oriental Kitchen opened in early 2017 off Grand Avenue Parkway in Pflugerville, Brotherton made a point to eat there, then raved about their green beans through a post on Pflugerville Pfoodies.

Owner Meili Wu said that post helped build a following for the restaurant she owns.

“He helped me, so I follow [his example] the way he did for me. We all now try to post [on social media] and support new restaurants,” Wu said.

Brotherton’s drive to help his community extends far beyond propping up other local businesses through various means.

In summer 2016, when five police officers were ambushed and killed during a protest in Dallas, Pflugerville Police Department Lt. Chet Vronka said Brotherton was instrumental in organizing an appreciation barbecue for local law enforcement.

Vronka also noted a time when a PPD officer’s daughter had a severe illness and Brotherton helped organize a fundraiser to help pay medical bills and expenses.

“It’s things like that, but it’s not just that,” Vronka said, “We do things like National Night Out, Blue Santa, and he has always been there, supporting and sponsoring us during those events.”

The bottom line, Vronka said, is if the PPD needs something for the community, if it is in Brotherton’s power, he will do it.

“I think it’s really important that you take care of the community that takes care of you,” Brotherton said. “It just makes me feel good and alive.”

Two BBQ Joints

Liberty Barbecue

103 E. Main St., Round Rock

512-433-6330

www.libertybbqrrtx.com

Hours:

Wed.-Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Mon.-Tue. Closed

Brotherton’s Black Iron Barbecue

15608 Spring Hill Lane, Ste. 105, Pflugerville

512-547-4766

www.pflugervillebarbecue.com

Hours:

Mon.-Tue. Closed

Thu.-Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Sat.-Sun 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018. From there he became a dual-market editor for Community Impact's New Braunfels and San Marcos-Buda-Kyle editions. Brian is now a senior editor for the company's flagship papers, the Round Rock and Pflugerville-Hutto editions.