Sign in to comment!


White House

Houston man gives Obama 'reluctant pass' for skipping long BBQ line


President Obama jokes with Bruce Finstad, left, and his daughter, Faith, as he orders food Thursday at Franklin Barbecue in Austin. (AP)

President Obama dodged a potential beef with customers on Thursday after cutting an epic line at a noted Texas barbecue spot by buying them a massive food order.

After finishing a speech at the historic Paramount Theater, Obama visited nearby Franklin Barbecue in Austin, where lengthy lines typically form well before doors open at 11 a.m. local time. The leader of the free world then cut to the front of the line to order takeout for his official travel party, offering to pay the tab for the couple he went in front of.

"I would give him a reluctant pass, I guess."

- Bruce Finstad

“Boy, I guess being the president makes that OK, but we waited in line for about three hours,” Bruce Finstad, of Houston, told “If we had been outside when this happened, I might’ve felt a bit differently.”

Finstad and his daughter, Faith, then took Obama up on his offer with a Texas-sized meal consisting of three pounds of beef, two pounds of ribs, a half-pound of sausage and turkey, as well another half-pound each of sausage and turkey for his wife, Sedonia, and daughter Valerie.

"Hold on now,” Obama replied. “How many folks are you guys feeding? Just kidding."

Obama paid the $300 tab by credit card after initially pulling out a wad of $20 bills. He then departed with the ballyhooed BBQ for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport for Air Force One en route back to Washington.

Finstad, meanwhile, said he enjoyed the ribs but isn’t sure that the food was worth spending several hours in the Texas sun.

“I would say the food was good but not worth the three-hour wait,” he told “The only was I would go back is to go later in the afternoon. But no way would I wait for three hours again.”

Obama made good on a pledge he made earlier in the day, saying he planned to get Texas’ iconic cuisine “right after” his 40-minute speech.

That created larger-than-normal lines at the popular joint. 

An online poll conducted by on Friday determined that Obama made the right move by skipping the line, with 444 voters indicating the president had that right. Roughly 275 voters said “everyone” needs to wait on the line so notorious it even has its own Twitter account, according to the poll.

On Thursday, the restaurant weighed in on the debate  -- seeming to scoff at Obama’s decision to cut after initially supporting it.

Asked if Obama made the right decision to skip the line, Finstad replied: "I would give him a reluctant pass, I guess."