District 3: Bastrop County
Member of Audit & Finance and Member & Employee Services committees.
Texas barbecue pro and civic leader Bryan Bracewell is the newest member of the Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative Board of Directors. He joined the board in May 2018 as one of the District 3, Bastrop County, directors, replacing James Kershaw, who retired after 36 years of service.
Bryan brings a legacy of his own to the position. He is the third generation of Bracewells to own Southside Market & Barbeque, a business founded in downtown Elgin in 1882 and renowned as the birthplace of Elgin hot sausage. His grandfather, Ernest Bracewell, bought the business in 1968 and relocated it to what is now U.S. 290. That original hot sausage is still on the menu.
A 350-seat Southside location opened in Bastrop on Texas 71 in 2014, the Austin location opened in fall of 2019, and the Hutto location opened in fall of 2020, Bryan said. Southside distributes sausage to all major grocers in the Austin area, to H-E-Bs in Central and North Texas, and to Walmart, which sells the sausage in Texas. Bryan started working at Southside at age 12, like his father, Ernest Bracewell, Jr.
Bryan grew up in Elgin. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 1998 with a degree in food science and technology, he returned to work alongside his grandfather and father until 2010, when he took the reins of the business. “I had a strong desire to grow the business and keep us on that growth path,” he said. Today, Southside has more than 140 employees.
Bryan’s business philosophies are straightforward. “We aspire to be servant leaders. Our mission is to enrich the lives of the people we encounter daily. Sausage and barbecue are the details of what we do, but at the end of the day, it’s really all about people. We add value by serving others.… People do business with people, not with places.”
He is active in Elgin and Bastrop community organizations. Bryan is on the board of the Elgin Economic Development Corporation. He also serves on the First National Bank of Bastrop’s Elgin Community Advisory Board.
Bluebonnet has experienced rapid growth on the western side of the service area, and Bryan sees growth pushing into Elgin. That growth presents the city with opportunities and challenges. “Other communities in our service area have gone through it. It’s Elgin’s turn,” he said. “As Austin grows and prices itself out of the range of a lot of families, then Elgin is an attractive option.”
Elgin’s downtown has flourished in the last few years, and that helps preserve the city’s culture and history. “If we embrace growth and do it in a proper way, Elgin can grow in an intentional and productive manner,” Bryan said.
Joining the Bluebonnet Electric board is an honor, Bryan said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of learning the business of Bluebonnet and the industry. Bluebonnet is held in such high esteem in its service area,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be selected for the board. It’s also humbling and intimidating. It’s a big job. I don’t take that lightly.”
Bryan and his wife, Rachel, who is a part of the marketing team at Southside were high school sweethearts. They married in 1998, and live in downtown Bastrop. They have twin sons, Chase and Nathan.
When Bryan isn’t at work or taking on a community project, he and Rachel are involved in their sons’ sports activities. But when there’s a chance to get away, they opt for the outdoors: camping, hunting, fishing and hiking.
And, just like their father and grandfathers his sons were working at Southside at age 12. “They clean tables and wash dishes, just like I did,” Bryan said.