History of the New Braunfels Smokehouse
Russell Kemble Dunbar, also known as Kim, set in motion the future of the New Braunfels Smokehouse in 1943 when he bought five ice plants.
To add backstory, the New Braunfels Ice Plant was on site of the New Braunfels Brewery. Prior to the prohibition, the brewery claimed to brew a beer as potent as most whiskeys! Then, during the prohibition era, the brewery developed “Busto”; a non-alcoholic drink called “Near Beer”. This spurred the slogan – “there is no beer near here, but we have near beer here”.
New Braunfels Smokehouse’s First Cook
Within the ice plant, a local plant employee, Benno Schunemann, started to service local farmers his skills in smoking meat. Benno’s smoked hams and sausages were the talk of the town. Word spread and more people started asking for their meats to be smoked by Benno.
During one golfing outing at the San Antonio Country Club, Kim and his friends, Bill Wyatt, seeing the potential in the meat business, came up with a plan to start advertising.
Kim, being a busy businessman divided his time between a municipal bond business, cattle business, and the ice plant/smoked meats business. This led him to begin traveling between San Antonio, New Braunfels, and South Texas to ranch country.
The Real Brains Behind the Operation
With Kim’s time well stretched, his wife, Arabel decided to take over the ice plant, later starting the New Braunfels Smokehouse Restaurant. In 1952, the Dunbar family opened their first “tasting room” along highway 81, attracting people between San Antonio and Austin.
Arabel placed many hours and days into establishing the smokehouse as a success. The design was inspired by old smoky Mountain smokehouses and she furnished it with early Texas Furniture, which she adored. The country store has remained the same since introduced to the general public back in the 1950s.
Along with the country design, she incorporated the smoked meat selection with kitchen gifts, gourmet foods, and toys to keep the customers of all ages entertained. To this day, the smokehouse has kept true to their original flavor in design and culture.
The Dream Lives On
When Kim passed away in 1976, Arabel’s life became even more centered around the smokehouse. She traveled to San Francisco to get ideas of layout and decor of modern delis and sandwich shops. Upon return, she started a small, deli-style store in the Alamo Heights area of San Antonio. Arabel remained active in the business until her death in 1985.
The smokehouse has continued to grow. In 2004, they doubled in overall production. When first opening, they offered only a tight selection of products, now as they have grown their selection, it encompasses a catalog of over fifty products.
In 2007, the staff saw massive expansion and then again in 2008. Throughout this expansion, the family business has continued to keep its aim at delivering the highest-quality, hickory-smoked meats. The New Braunfels Smokehouse has continued to keep their tradition and passion for delicious, smoked meats ever since.
Enjoy the New Braunfels Smokehouse for a Lifetime
New Braunfels has a wealth of history. The Smokehouse is just a sample of the deep sense of tradition and culture in New Braunfels. If you’re yearning for more and want to make this cultural treasure your home, come by Veramendi and take a tour of our community. We’d love to show you around and all of the excellent benefits Veramendi possesses.