“Wind just kind of swept through the smokehouse a lot more than we’re used to and carried an ember from a cooker and caught a wall on fire,” Franklin said in a phone interview. “It went up real quick.”
The scenes from Twitter were horrific.
The wood-framed smokehouse, which Franklin built three years ago for his pits, was destroyed in the fire. Part of the kitchen roof is “pretty damaged” as well, Franklin said. He wasn’t sure about total damages yet, but the Austin American-Statesman reported the fire caused about $350,000 in structural damages and property loss.
“The front part of the restaurant is untouched and perfect,” Franklin noted.
The lone bit of good news: No one was injured in the blaze, even though a late-night cook was smoking ribs when the fire broke out. The cook is a “little shaken up, but he’s good,” Franklin said
Franklin Barbecue’s official Twitter account said the owners weren’t sure when the restaurant would reopen.
But Franklin, the first pitmaster to win a Beard Award in a regional chef category, told The Washington Post he hoped to reopen within a month. The timetable, he noted, would depend on a fuller review of the property after Harvey moved through the region. The former Category 4 hurricane was expected to dump more than a foot of rain on Austin.
“If there was a part to the building that’s easiest to rebuild, that was the one,” Franklin said of the smokehouse. “It’s not the end of the world.”
“It doesn’t do us any good to be bummed out about it,” he added, laughing at his own bad fortune. “We got to keep working on it.”
The decorated pitmaster wasn’t sure yet whether his insurance would cover the damage. He still couldn’t reach his agent.
“It’s a Saturday,” he said, “and those guys don’t really like to work on Saturdays. So we’re trying to work on that, too.”
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