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Moonie’s Texas Barbecue, a Flowery Branch favorite, opens location in Gainesville
Flowery Branch favorite opens another restaurant on John Morrow Parkway
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Christoph Gneiding, general manager of Moonies Texas Barbecue, pulls a rack of pork from the smoker at the restaurant's new location in on John Morrow Parkway in Gainesville on Wednesday. - photo by Nick Bowman

Cows and pigs of North Georgia beware: Jason and Brooke Martin are packing some serious heat — about 225 degrees of it for 12 to 18 hours.

The owners of Moonie’s Texas Barbecue, a Flowery Branch favorite for more than six years, have opened a new location at 250 John Morrow Parkway in Gainesville.

Moonie’s Texas Barbecue

Where: 250 John Morrow Parkway, Gainesville

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week

More info:

Since August 2011, they’ve sold a style a barbecue coming from central Texas, just one among many from Texas and the nation as a whole, at their Atlanta Highway location in South Hall.

“Even Texas has its own its own nuances,” said Brooke, sitting at one of the Gainesville shop’s long, checkered tables. “We’re meat-focused, not sauce-focused.”

And being from Texas — the state of 100,000 acre cattle ranches — Moonie’s barbecue is all about the beef. The best-selling item is the Martins’ beef brisket, a cut from the lower breast portion of the cow. (Another Texas dogma: Beans don’t belong in chili, said Jason, who described talk of the idea as “fighting words.”)

Moonie’s has a barbecue sauce, but when the meat is in the smoker the heavy lifting is being done by salt, pepper and — most importantly — the meat itself.

To get their smoke flavor, they use white oak wood from local trees.

“Hickory and mesquite are more of a bitter wood — you can get a lot more smoke flavor, where oak is kind of a medium to mild wood where you taste more of the meat instead of the smoke,” Jason said. “It doesn’t have that bitterness to it.”

But while they talk up their brisket, the menu also includes pulled pork and turkey breast barbecue. Their offerings haven’t changed much in the past six years, though Brooke said they’ve tweaked a couple of the sides.

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Racks of ribs rest in the Moonies Texas Barbecue smoker at the restaurant's new location in Gainesville on Wednesday. Restaurant owners Jason and Brooke Martin opened the new location after more than six years with a single spot in Flowery Branch. - photo by Nick Bowman

One thing has changed from the early days: Brunswick stew, which isn’t to be found in Texas but might as well trickle down the streams and rivers of the Georgia countryside.

“When we moved here, I had no idea what Brunswick stew was,” Jason said, laughing. “A funny story about that: We had a family come in when we first opened and they asked where the Brunswick stew was. I told them we were a Texas-style shop and we have brisket chili, and they just turned around and walked out. They wouldn’t even try the barbecue.“

So, lesson learned, the Martins put it on the menu.

“We base ours more off of almost a Texas chili recipe,” he said. “We add our barbecue sauce to it, corn to it, cream to it to make it a little bit richer. It gets away from a tomato flavor.”

From Brunswick stew to brisket, all of it came to John Morrow Parkway on Wednesday, the grand opening of the new location.

It’s the first new shop for the Martins, but not the couple’s first expansion.

Coming from tech-heavy Austin, Jason’s day job was computer programming. He worked four days a week from home, and he and Brooke sold barbecue on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays beginning in 2011.

“For six months, we were just open on the weekends and really hit it off,” Jason said.

By February 2012, the restaurant was open full time and the Martins had one employee. With the addition of the Gainesville location, they now employ about 24 people.

They started working on the new location about six months ago. Both locations are managed by Christoph Gneiding. The business was still updating its phone system on Wednesday, and the Gainesville location is expected to be without phone service for the next couple of days, according to the Martins.

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Meat sits in the smoker at the new Gainesville location of Moonies Texas Barbecue on Wednesday. The Flowery Branch barbecue location opened its second shop after more than six years in South Hall. - photo by Nick Bowman

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