Justin Pearson developed a passion for the art of cooking barbecue while growing up and working in his grandfather’s restaurant, Chisholm Trail Barbecue, in Lockhart.

Pearson’s grandfather, Floyd Wilhelm, owned and operated the restaurant for more than 35 years, and Pearson spent his summers working and learning alongside him.

“It was always a passion,” Pearson said. “My grandfather was a huge mentor of mine. I studied everything he did and asked questions a thousand times.”

While attending Texas State University, Pearson decided to pursue a career path outside the restaurant industry, but his love for cooking was always at the back of his mind.

“I found myself catering for friends and cooking every weekend in college,” Pearson said. “I probably have a dozen spiral [notebooks] throughout high school and college where I had mapped out my barbecue business ideas.”

Before graduating in 2014, Pearson had a chance to start his own restaurant when Hayes County BBQ & Catering moved out of its Hunter Road location.

He worked with the previous owner, investors, and family and friends to bring his family’s style of salt-and-pepper-rubbed smoked meat to San Marcos. The business now offers catering and baked goods, he said. Customer favorites are its sausages, classic smoked brisket, braised cabbage and fresh pies made by Pearson’s sister, Sabrina.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, San Marcos BBQ incorporated online ordering, delivery and to-go options, and Pearson said he got ahead of the May meat shortage by buying brisket in bulk and freezing the meat until it could be used.

“I basically used all the money we had in our account and bought four weeks of briskets,” Pearson said. “That was probably the only reason we were able to create growth.”

In mid-August, Pearson plans to open a second location at 1701 S. I-35, San Marcos, where he will offer the same menu and incorporate the lessons he has learned in the last six years of business, he said.

“I want to continue to offer a great product that does not change and for more people to get to try it,” Pearson said. “When it all comes down to it, that’s what I’m after.”

San Marcos BBQ (original location)

2601 Hunter Road, San Marcos

512-938-1019 | www.sanmarcosbbq.com

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.