In a move that has sparked more than a little excitement among locals and regular Round Top visitors alike, Truth Barbecue has purchased the Roundtop Smokehouse and reopened the beloved Henkel Square restaurant under the name Merritt Meat Company in tribute to former owner Lee Ellis, who passed away in March. 

New owners Abbie Byrom-Botello and Leonard Botello used Ellis’ middle name Merritt for their new restaurant in a nod to the larger-than-life Round Top legend. Ellis and his wife Melissa launched multiple local businesses together, including popular watering hole Ellis Motel Emporium & Lounge and the adjacent Round Top Smokehouse.

“This is our way of honoring his vision for the smokehouse,” Byrom-Botello says about the name selection. “Fun fact — we even carved his initials into fresh concrete laid after we remodeled the entryway/ordering area.

“He is very much a part of Leonard and I and this smokehouse.” 

A sampling of the Texas comfort food dishes currently available at Merritt Meat Company

While smoked meat dishes are currently being served at Merritt Meat, a new menu is under development that will focus more on live fire meats and vegetables in an effort to differentiate the offerings from those traditionally served at Truth.

“Conceptually this is still very much a BBQ restaurant focused on delivering great Texas comfort food,” Byrom-Botello adds. “Lee wanted a killer BBQ joint and that’s what we are here to do. We loved Lee and his vision, creativity and overall fun approach to food and experiences.

“We’re just here to make him proud and continue to feed Round Top the same way he did.”

The new logo of Merritt Meat Company, which pays homage to Round Top restaurant maker Lee Ellis.

Merritt Meat Company’s current hours are Fridays through Sundays from 11 am to sell out. You can find this barbecue haven in Henkel Square Market at 150 N. Live Oak Street.