The infectious smells of smoked brisket and candied bacon signify a dream come true for Dripping Springs resident Bill Warren.
With the opening of Pig Pen BBQ, Warren, who is an Austin Police officer, is living his dream as he brings his version of “destination eating” to town.
But Warren is also a sort-of trailblazer, as the property his truck is located on houses three food trailers, with the possibility of more food trucks in the future. The other food trucks include Dripping Wings and Le Muse coffee shop.
Warren, who has been barbequing for 20+ years, is joined by co-founder and partner Michelle Matthews, along with his sister and business partner Lisa Lerma and her husband, Nick.
The path toward their food truck venture began in July 2016 when Warren, a sergeant with the Austin Police Department with plans to retire soon, and Matthews, a registered nurse, sought to concentrate more on their catering business, “I do-BBQ.”
In August, Warren and Matthews started looking for a location for their business.
“Our mother got me into it (barbequing),” Warren said as he gestured toward Lerma. “She loved to barbeque and always wanted me to get involved. So when she passed away about 10 years ago, I started barbequing on my own for friends and family.”
Warren said the idea for the food trailer grew from the overwhelming feedback from family and friends raving about Warrens’ barbeque. Ultimately, the push he needed came from Matthews herself.
“She gave me the confidence to get out and do it, she is my best cheerleader and was instrumental in the catering side of the business,” Warren said about Matthews.
Breaking into the food trailer industry in Dripping Springs, however, was a bit of a challenge. Warren described the long permitting process with multiple restrictions.
“It seemed difficult to open a food trailer in Dripping Springs,” Warren said.
Warren and Matthews ended up recruiting the experience of former Dripping Springs city employee John Thompson to help them through the permitting process that took around three months.
“You can do it (open a food trailer) without him, but it makes your job a lot easier having someone else to do the paperwork,” Warren said.
The duo conformed with lighting and operating restrictions. They also complied with the city’s rule that food trucks can only be open initially for 10 days per month.
Warren and Matthews were then given the go-ahead to add more food trailers to their food park.
There are three food or beverage trailers in total on their property with plans to add six more.
“We’re adhering to all the city’s restrictions and they have been very receptive to that,” Warren said, “The business plan is going to work out here.”
Warren said the buzz about his barbeque through social media continues to rise.
“I think it’s a testament to how good it tastes,” Warren said.
Matthews also credits the food and how much people enjoy it.
Warren recalls how quickly the barbeque business took off once he decided to pursue it.
“Nick (Lerma) said it the best when he said we just want to be the local guys ‘barbeque joint,” Warren said.
His business has also been allowed to extend its hours of operation, which now allows them to stay open until they sell out.
“We tend to sell out everyday,” Warren said.
Warren said those who might be interested in opening a food trailer have to just “go for it.”
“The most difficult step is the first one; just do it. If that’s really what your heart’s into and that’s really what you want to do, just do it,” Warren said.
At this time Warren said there are no plans to expand the business to a brick and mortar establishment but time will tell if that is in the future for Pig Pen BBQ.