A new mural unveiled at Burns Original BBQ traces the restaurant's history, including a section that honors the late Anthony Bourdain, who visited the locale twice and helped put it in the national spotlight.
The mural was commissioned by Burns BBQ owner Cory Crawford and designed by local artist and muralist Alex Roman Jr., who goes by the name Donkeeboy.
"He [Cory] wanted something that represented the history of Burns BBQ and some key moments," Roman said, adding that Burns was very involved throughout the design process. "We went through – I couldn’t tell you – maybe 10 sketches or more, just getting it right, making sure that it fits."
Located on the Northside of Houston in Acres Homes, Burns BBQ was founded by Roy Burns Sr. in 1973. It quickly became a local staple, known for their ribs, brisket and signature barbecue sauce.
Bourdain first filmed an episode at Burns in 2004 for the Food Network, and returned again in 2016 to feature the barbecue joint in the Houston episode of his CNN show Parts Unknown.
"From my understanding, every time that episode airs there’s so much traffic coming in that’s outside of the city, maybe even the state," Roman said. "It’s a very important moment that happened."
He added that during the course of painting the mural he met people from all over the world, including Germany, China and California, who had journeyed to Burns to taste the food.
"I ate everything, I ate every single thing," Roman said. "It’s all amazing, and the coolest part is that you get it really fast, which I don’t know how they do that."
Though Burns closed in 2010 after Roy Burns Sr. passed away, it was reopened in 2012 by his grandsons, following renovations. Both those stages are depicted in the mural – Roy Burns Sr. sits between the old house on the left and the remodeled Burns on the right. Other elements in the mural include their signature BBQ sauce, the state of Texas, and the 44 Acres Homes bus route logo.
Donkeeboy has painted numerous murals around Houston, including a Shipley Do-Nuts mural off the Katy Freeway and an Astros mural at Minute Maid Park. He's currently the resident artist at 8th Wonder Brewery.