Salt Lick co-founder ran one of Texas’ barbecue giants


Hisako Tsuchiyama Roberts, the co-founder of the Salt Lick in Driftwood, one of the most famous restaurants in Texas, died Thursday in Austin at 104.

A native of Lihue, Kauai, and the child of Japanese parents, Roberts met her future husband, Thurman Roberts, while the sailor was stationed with the Navy in Hawaii during World War II. The couple married and returned to Thurman Roberts’ native Texas, opening the now world-famous barbecue restaurant in Driftwood in 1967.

Tsuchiyama Roberts, who held a masters degree in psychology from UCLA, dedicated her professional life in Texas to running the restaurant in the idyllic setting. She brought the flavors of her own culture to the smoked meat specialists, according to her son, Scott Roberts. In his 2014 book “Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love,” he wrote about his mother’s tempura frying of vegetables and shrimp for the menu along with her addition of poppy seeds to cole slaw and celery seeds to potato salad.

After her husband’s death in 1981, Tsuchiyama Roberts operated the restaurant on her own until she retired in 1987, at which time Scott Roberts took the reins of the family business. The restaurant has since become even more famous for its bottled and branded sauces. It also operates a popular outpost at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and a location in Round Rock, with plans to open in Grapevine later this year or in 2019.

In his book, Scott Roberts wrote about his mother’s no-nonsense approach to business and her admirable work ethic; in her obituary, relatives shared a tale of the diminutive Tsuchiyama Roberts felling a charging buck with the swing of a pecan bucket she was using for shelling, killing it with a rock while her husband and his friends were away on an unsuccessful hunting trip.

Tsuchiyama Roberts was preceeded in death by her husband, Thurman, and son Butch. She is survived by son Scott Roberts; daughter-in-law Susan Goff; granddaughter and Salt Lick Vice President Maile Roberts-Loring and her husband, Brian Loring; and great-grandson Emory Loring.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to KUT or the University of Texas.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Trial begins for man accused of attacking 7 women in North Austin
Trial begins for man accused of attacking 7 women in North Austin

An aggravated assault trial begins Tuesday for an Austin man accused of committing a string of attacks against women, including incidents in which authorities say one woman was doused in gasoline and another was sexually assaulted while threatened with a knife. Police allege that Nicodemo Coria-Gonzalez, 27, attacked seven women between December 2015...
FORECAST: Sunshine, high temperature near 92, heat index of 100
FORECAST: Sunshine, high temperature near 92, heat index of 100

Tuesday forecast for Austin: A hot day with mostly sunny skies is in store for Central Texas, according to the National Weather Service.  Temperatures could reach 92 degrees with humidity driving up the heat index value, or the “feels like” temperature, to as high as 100, forecasters said.  Although the astronomical start...
Hurricane Florence: Trucker driving school bus rescues 64 dogs, cats from South Carolina
Hurricane Florence: Trucker driving school bus rescues 64 dogs, cats from South Carolina

A Tennessee truck driver is being hailed as a hero after he rescued 64 shelter dogs and cats ahead of Hurricane Florence. According to the Greenvale News, Tony Alsup, 51, from Greenback, Tennessee, drove a school bus to South Carolina last week as the deadly storm strengthened in the Atlantic. Once there, he stopped in Orangeburg, Georgetown, Dillon...
TRAFFIC ALERT: Bee Cave Road closed until noon between Loop 360, Barton Creek Blvd.
TRAFFIC ALERT: Bee Cave Road closed until noon between Loop 360, Barton Creek Blvd.

8:50 a.m. Tuesday update: Bee Cave Road will be closed from Barton Creek Boulevard to Loop 360 until noon Tuesday after an 18-wheeler crashed into utility poles and damaged them, causing some to be left without power, Monday night, Austin Energy officials confirmed. Since Monday night, power has been restored to most customers, but...
Is Ted Cruz’s ‘summons’ letter deceptive, illegal or fair play?
Is Ted Cruz’s ‘summons’ letter deceptive, illegal or fair play?

A “summons” letter from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s re-election campaign that has landed in Central Texas mailboxes in recent days has reignited the debate about what qualifies as a deceptive and illegal fundraising practice. Austin resident Sean Owen shared on Twitter Saturday such a letter from the Cruz campaign addressed to his grandmother...
More Stories