“WHAT SETS KREUZ MARKET APART IS ITS MANIACAL DEVOTION TO TRADITION.”
COOKING LOW AND SLOW
Kreuz smoked meats like they did in the old country—German meat-market style, smoking in brick pits over post oak. Former owner Rick Schmidt remembers the day a German woman visited his market. “I want to tell you that your sausage is the only sauce that I’ve tasted here that reminds me of my hometown,” she said.
Here’s why, according to Rick: “We don’t use these auto pits, where you load some sticks in, set your thermometer, and come back in eight or nine hours. What we do takes attention. You’re constantly working the fire, and you need to know how the meat’s supposed to look and smell and sizzle. It’s all feel and sight.”
FROM 1900 TO NOW
WHERE ORIGINIAL TEXAS BARBECUE WAS BORN.
And customers took to it like a fish to water. They bought their groceries and ate their barbecue off butcher paper with their hands—and without forks, knives or sauce.
Charles’ sons and Prove ran Kreuz Market until 1948, when Edgar Schmidt, a faithful Kreuz employee since 1936, bought it. Edgar closed the grocery story in the sixties, but kept sides like crackers, bread, pickles, onions and cheese that had become crowd favorites. They’re still on the Kreuz Menu.
In 1984, Edgar sold the business to his sons, Rick and Don Schmidt after 2 years-worth of what’s come to be known as a family feud amongst the brothers and their sister Nina Sells of Smitty’s Market. The brothers worked together until Don’s retirement in 1997.
Two years later, Rick moved Kreuz Market to a bigger location down the street from the original one. The building’s new but the fire the brick pits is the same one that’s been burnin’ for 100 years. Pit Master Roy Perez and Lehman Schmidt drug the burning coals a quarter mile from the original location to make sure of it.
Rick sold the family business to his son Keith Schmidt in 2011 when he retired. Keith is keeping his father’s traditions, the same traditions his grandfather Edgar and Charles Kreuz Sr. himself, alive and well in Texas.
Pit boss Roy Perez’ talent for smoking Kreuz meats to perfection day in and day out for more than a quarter century is about as legendary as his muttonchops. The reason for the chops: he loves Elvis—even has a granddaughter Presley who was born on the same day as The King himself.
Perez is the reason we can afford to cook low and slow here without making any compromises. Most people know the meat’s done when the thermometer tells them so; Roy knows by smell and sizzle alone. And how does Roy like Kreuz? “I’ll probably be here until they bury me in the ashes,” he says.