Last week, pit master Bryan Furman of B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque in Savannah, Georgia, served crowds larger and hungrier than any he had ever seen before. Not only was he profiled as one of five pit masters serving real-deal barbecue in the June/July issue of Garden & Gun, and included on our Barbecue Bucket List, but Southern Living had also named his joint one of the best in the region, and local media had followed suit. The sudden attention amazed the former welder, who traded his torch for tongs less than a year ago.
“When we ran out of food on Saturday, people waited outside the building until I opened back up three hours later,” he says. “We told people it was going to be an hour wait, and they were putting in orders. Then they waited for two hours, and I was like, What the—”
This week, he prepared for the crowds by investing thousands of dollars in new equipment and more than nine hundred pounds of whole hog. But when he showed up at his restaurant this morning, it was almost completely destroyed. He and his wife had gone home at 1:30 a.m., and a fire had started soon after. According to witnesses, the building was engulfed in flames by 2:20.
While the pit master makes a living stoking fires, this one was probably an unrelated accident. “The fire investigator believes it was the Coca-Cola machine,” Furman says. It had been acting up in recent weeks, he says, and the worst of the damage is concentrated around the spot where it sat. Two hogs and a brisket that were resting on the pit are burnt but not incinerated, as they would likely be were a pit fire the culprit.
Friends, neighbors, and fellow pit masters have already reached out to Furman to offer meat, smokers, and help with the rebuilding process. Although the ashes have hardly settled on the skeleton of his restaurant, the pit master knows what he needs to do now.
“Our plan is to knock it down and build it bigger,” he says.