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Award-winning Atlanta BBQ restaurant destroyed in fire
Owner is Cassatt native, semi-finalist for James Beard Award
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Fire crews worked to put out flames shooting from the roof of B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue in the Riverside neighborhood of northwest Atlanta on Wednesday morning. The restaurant is owned by Cassatt native Bryan Furman. (John Spink/Atlanta Journal Constitution)
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At one point, crews had to back off firefighting efforts because the restaurant’s roof started to collapse. (John Spink/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

By CHELSEA PRINCE

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Editor’s note: B’s Craklin’ Barbecue owner Bryan Furman is a Cassatt native. The C-I thanks The Atlanta Journal Constitution for permission to reprint this story of interest for our readers. The original story can be found by clicking here.)

B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue, an award-winning restaurant in the Riverside neighborhood of northwest Atlanta, went up in flames Wednesday morning, the second time its chef has lost his restaurant to fire.

Bryan Furman and his wife, Nikki, opened the location on Main Street in 2016 after fire destroyed the first B’s Cracklin’ location in Savannah, Ga. Pitmasters and chefs from restaurants around the Southeast, including several popular local spots, helped Furman to rebuild in Savannah and encouraged him to branch out into the Atlanta restaurant scene.

As related in a C-I reprint of an Atlanta Magazine story last August, Furman grew up in Cassatt, learning to raise pigs on his grandparents’ farm. After taking a welding job in Savannah, he met a pig farmer who offered to keep hogs for Furman if he fed the other pigs on the property. Furman started bringing fresh pork dishes to his coworkers, which quickly lead to a catering business. He soon realized a career change was in order, and started the first restaurant there.

The fire that destroyed the Atlanta restaurant started around 2 a.m. Wednesday in the restaurant’s barbecue pit area, according to Atlanta fire officials. Bryan Furman told Channel 2 Action News he woke up to a phone call alerting him to an activated door alarm. When he looked on his surveillance camera feed, he saw smoke filling the eatery.

He ran to his bedroom window to see flames shooting from the pit house chimney, he said.

The restaurant smokes meat overnight, but Furman said the cook wasn’t there when he arrived a few minutes later. He tried to douse the flames with a fire extinguisher before firefighters arrived. They spread too fast.

The blaze proved tough even for fire crews, fire spokesman Sgt. Cortez Stafford told the news station.

“We had guys in there working, but our incident command pulled them out as a safety issue due to the fact that the roof was in fact collapsing due to the extent of the fire that was moving here this morning,” he said from the scene.

The fire was not extinguished until after 6 a.m. Investigators are working to determine its cause.

In 2017, food website Eater named B’s Cracklin’ restaurant of the year in Atlanta.

“B’s Cracklin’ BBQ in Riverside is the sort of place that attracts the attention of purists, for good reason,” AJC food writer Wyatt Williams wrote in his review.

Just last month, Furman was named a semifinalist for the coveted 2019 James Beard Award. He is in the running for the best chef in the Southeast.

In a message posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, the owners said B’s Cracklin’ “will be closed until further notice.”

Furman told Channel 2 he sees the fire as an opportunity for improvement.

“It’s not a setback,” he said. “I’m just waiting to get my permits to find out how quick I can rebuild.”