The Houston Astros may have lost an All-Star pitcher in the off-season, but the team has added an even bigger superstar who'll be throwing some serious heat in 2020. BBQ maestro Ronnie Killen, often called The King of Meats, has practically taken over the upper deck of Minute Maid Park in deep right field with his acclaimed, prize-winning meats, fixins, and sweet tea.
Wait till you see his new smoker they’re installing in the ballpark — it’s enormous. You could run the B&O Railroad off it.
“I met Ronnie about six years ago. We were looking for someone to sell BBQ at street festivals before Astros game and it was an instant success,” says Mat Drain, the Dalai Lama of Dill Pickles for Aramark, which operates all the concessions at Minute Maid Park.
“Ronnie has been operating at NRG Stadium with Aramark the last couple of seasons. We approached Ronnie about bringing Killen’s to Minute Maid Park in tour new entertainment and food area on the 400 level. Ronnie jumped at the opportunity and with his prior relationship with the Astros, we knew it would be an ideal fit.”
I caught up with Killen at a recent Astros food tasting. Here you go — just a taste to whet your appetite for the 2020 baseball season:
CultureMap: What will be the name of your concession booth? Is it a built-in stand or a kiosk?
Ronnie Killen: It will be a freestanding barbecue restaurant and the name will be Killen’s Barbecue.
CM: Will you have a limited menu with a few things from your famous restaurant, or are you swinging for the fences?
RK: We will serve more than we do at NRG Stadium. We’ll have several different types of barbecue sandwiches, including sliced beef, chopped beef, sliced turkey, and sausage. We’ll have BBQ plates with two sides, like brisket, sausage, pork ribs, turkey breast, and an occasional beef rib.
CM: How many restaurants do you own now?
RK: I have two Killen’s Steakhouses, one in Pearland and one in The Woodlands; Killen’s Barbecue; Killen’s Burgers; Killen’s TMX; and Killen’s STQ. Plus, two restaurants in NRG Stadium and coming soon to Minute Maid Park. So, technically, I have 10.
CM: You once told me that you do nothing special or secret to your meats. Are you sticking with that story?
RK: Absolutely, yes, 100 percent. I buy the best quality meats I can get my hands on, and then I use salt and pepper and that’s all.
CM: Do you have any more restaurants on the Killen’s empire drawing board?
RK: After The Heights location opens in a couple months, I’d like to open another BBQ place in The Woodlands, and then take a break for a while.