Owner of famed Austin eatery la Barbecue indicted on fraud charges

Barbecue joint allegedly didn’t have workers’ compensation coverage when an employee was hurt

la Barbecue in Austin (Google Maps)

AUSTIN, Texas – Famed Austin barbecue joint la Barbecue is making headlines again this month.

The owner and manager of la Barbecue, Allison Clem, and her wife LeAnn Mueller have been indicted for their alleged role in a $350,000 workers’ compensation fraud scheme, according to the Texas Department of Insurance.

The couple has been ordered to appear in court on September 28 for an incident stemming from 2016.

According to the TDI, an employee of the restaurant suffered severe injuries while operating a piece of kitchen equipment.

Investigators said Clem and Mueller found out about the incident the day it occurred and Clem contacted Paychex Insurance four days later to obtain workers’ compensation coverage.

TDI states that the eatery had been without worker’s compensation coverage since Nov. 2014.

A Fraud Unit investigation by the TDI found that Clem did not disclose her employee’s injuries to the insurance agent but asked that the new policy be backdated to July 1, 2016, three weeks before the employee was hurt.

“Mueller then submitted a signed application for coverage claiming the business had no prior losses and the policy was approved by Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America,” TDI reported. “When Travelers received the claim for the employee’s injury, they approved the claim and paid the injured employee more than $350,000 in medical and indemnity benefits.”

Additionally, the insurance company is responsible for the lifetime care of the injured employee.

If they’re found guilty, Clem and Mueller could be ordered to pay restitution plus double the amount Travelers has already paid in benefits to the injured worker.

Earlier this month la Barbecue made headlines after a meat thief jumped a side fence, cut off barbecue pit locks and loaded more than 20 full briskets into a nearby SUV.

La Barbecue is located at 2401 E Cesar Chavez in East Austin. The barbecue joint is frequently mentioned in “best of” lists and made the cut for top barbecue joints in 2021 by Texas Monthly.

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.