Fire closes Franklin Bar­be­cue

Part of renowned Austin smoke­house is se­verely dam­aged after em­ber from bar­be­cue pit starts blaze.

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - METRO & STATE - By Matthew Odam modam@states­man.com

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.

“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 dam- age.

The fire was con­tained to the room that houses the smok­ers;

restau­rant’s kitchen and din­ing room sus­tained only smoke dam­age.

“There was not as much prop-

erty loss as most restau­rants would have,” Franklin said.

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 to be able to re­open in a few weeks but 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.” Con­tact Matthew Odam at 512-912-5986. Twit­ter: @odam

‘I’m not so up­set about what’s al­ready happened; I am more look­ing to­ward what we’re go­ing to do go­ing for­ward.’ Aaron Franklin Owner of Franklin Bar­be­cue

PHO­TOS BY JAY JANNER / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Fire­fight­ers work the scene at Franklin Bar­be­cue on Satur­day. Fire De­part­ment of­fi­cials said the blaze was an ac­ci­dent caused by a wind-blown em­ber.

The smoke­house, where the fire orig­i­nated, was al­most com­pletely de­stroyed, though the pits them­selves weren’t dam­aged.

MATTHEW ODAM / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

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

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