Barbecue mogul, former Kreuz owner, Bluebonnet director Rick Schmidt dies at 73
In 1984, Rick Schmidt and brother Don Schmidt purchased Kreuz Market from their father, Edgar “Smitty” Schmidt, continuing a tradition of well-respected, no-nonsense post-oak smoked meat that has delighted locals and barbecue tourists alike.
Rick Schmidt died Monday at the age of 73 after reportedly suffering from a heart attack. His son, Keith Schmidt, who had purchased the business from him in 2011, confirmed his father’s passing in a post on social media.
“So long, Dad. We’ll keep the table reserved for you and Evelyn to watch music on Sunday,” Keith said, referring to his mother who died in March 2018. “I’ll miss you more than anyone knows, but also know more than anyone how happy you were to see Evelyn’s face in the light.”
Kreuz Market originally opened in 1900, but it’s been in the Schmidt family since 1948 when Rick’s father bought it.
Under Rick Schmidt, Kreuz’s reputation as a barbecue mecca grew. Sausage, pork chops and lean shoulder clod held center stage at the restaurant in the days before fatty, marbled hunks of brisket became the standard by which many critics judged a pitmaster’s prowess.
The lean meat preference of the restaurant’s regular diners held strong until relatively recently, Rick Schmidt noted in an interview.
“When I first opened (the Colorado Street location) up in 1999, that first Saturday we cooked about ninety-five shoulder clods and fifteen briskets. Now it has swapped. People aren’t afraid of fat,” Rick Schmidt famously told Texas Monthly in 2014. “They found out it tastes pretty good. Now we sell a lot more brisket than shoulder. My wife won’t eat anything but shoulder, but I eat brisket half the time.”
Rick Schmidt, a former TCU baseball player, was known for more than just his place in Texas barbecue lore. The Lockhart high school graduate also served his community on the Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative’s Board of Directors since 1994, and was the board’s chairman from 2002-2014.
Rick oversaw a lot of changes as board chairman, including the launching of a modernization program that included trucks, transformers, substations new meters, sophisticated computer systems and buildings, five retail centers and two service centers.
Bluebonnet board chairman Ben Flencher said the District 1 chairman’s longtime presence on the board would be missed.
“Rick had an enormous influence on Bluebonnet and its members during his 25 years on the board of directors,” Flencher said. “He brought a keen eye for business, and a strong sense of fairness, right and wrong. He was never afraid to look you in the eye and speak his mind with total honesty. He was a true leader whose presence will be missed and can never be completely replaced.”