Fire damages Franklin Barbecue smokehouse


Highlights

Fire officials blane an ember from a barbecue pit.

Aaron Franklin hopes to reopen in a few weeks, but will have to wait for a full analysis of the damage.

A fire that officials say was caused by an ember from a barbecue pit severely damaged part of Austin’s renowned Franklin Barbecue early Saturday. Nobody was injured in the blaze.

James Beard Award-winning pitmaster Aaron Franklin said he received a call at 5:37 a.m. alerting him that his restaurant was on fire. He jumped in his truck and headed to the restaurant he and his wife, Stacy, opened at 900 E. 11th St. in 2011. An employee cooking ribs had first noticed the fire and called 911, Franklin said.

The smokehouse, where the fire originated, was almost completely destroyed, though the pits themselves weren’t damaged. Part of the roof caved in, and the walk-in coolers suffered serious damage.

PHOTOS: Fire damages Franklin Barbecue

“Damage is certainly worse than I thought it was going to be,” Franklin said following a walk-through with the Austin Fire Department. “We deal with fire every day. It was inevitable someday something was going to be a problem. I just hope we can get it back together.”

Fire Department officials said the fire was an accident caused by a wind-blown ember from a pit that ignited surrounding combustible materials. The fire is estimated to have caused $200,000 worth of structural damage and $150,000 worth of content damage.

The fire was contained to the room that houses the smokers; the restaurant’s kitchen and dining room only suffered smoke damage.

“There was not as much property loss as most restaurants would have,” Franklin said.

WATCH: Aaron Franklin talks about fire at his barbecue restaurant

There is arguably no other restaurant name as synonymous with the city of Austin as Franklin Barbecue. What started as a trailer off the Interstate 35 access road in 2009 has grown into one of the city’s great tourist attractions and a bucket-list item for barbecue lovers from Texas and around the world. Lines regularly start forming three hours before the restaurant opens, and in 2016 Franklin became the first barbecue cook to ever win the prestigious James Beard award for best chef.

Franklin said he assumes the entire frame of the smokehouse will have to be torn down and rebuilt.

“I kind of had a game plan to get us back open, but going inside kind of crushed that,” Franklin said.

Franklin said he still hopes they will be able to reopen in a few weeks, but they will have to wait for the rain to cease before a full analysis can be done.

“It’s odd for me to not be cheerful,” Franklin said. “I got some thoughts going on for sure. I’m not so upset about what’s already happened; I am more looking toward what we’re going to do going forward.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Happy birthday: Co-workers buy car for fellow employee 
Happy birthday: Co-workers buy car for fellow employee 

A Michigan man will never forget his 19th birthday, thanks to the generosity of his co-workers, WJRT reported. Noah Robinson had been riding his bicycle to work from Saginaw to Kochville Township, pedaling the 6 ½ miles in 45 minutes regardless of the weather conditions. He works in the shipping department at Glastender and lives with his...
Indiana boy carves wooden toys for needy children
Indiana boy carves wooden toys for needy children

A 10-year-old Indiana boy is building toys from scratch to help children in need enjoy the holiday season, WISH reported. Zander Hite of Greenwood took the advice of his grandfather, Darl Hite, who gave the boy a $20 bill last winter and told him to make a difference this holiday season. Zander bought two slabs of wood to build toy cars, WISH...
Former Washington State high school employee accused of rape
Former Washington State high school employee accused of rape

A former employee at a Washington State high school was charged Thursday afternoon with allegedly raping a 15-year-old student. Kristal M. Gamble, 33, was employed as an office assistant at Kent Meridian High School when she allegedly initiated an illegal sexual relationship with a boy last spring. According to Detective Melanie Robinson...
Drug-filled drone crashes at Arizona prison
Drug-filled drone crashes at Arizona prison

A drone crashed at an Arizona prison in September, and officials found drugs and cellphones aboard the vehicle, The Arizona Republic reported.  The drone crashed in a yard accessible only to corrections officers. The Arizona Department of Corrections said Thursday it is still trying to determine who was behind the delivery Sept. 24 delivery...
Cleveland zoo shows off new otter pups
Cleveland zoo shows off new otter pups

Three male otter pups made their public debut at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on Friday, WKYC reported. Zoo officials said the pups were born on Sept. 24 to Bitzy and Kibble. Baby otters are born with their eyes closed and need a few weeks to learn how to swim, meaning they'll be ready to join their parents, Bitzy and Kibble, on exhibit in The...
More Stories