How Franklin Barbecue Came Back After the Fire

Franklin Barbecue has been a muse to Austin-based photographer Wyatt McSpadden since it opened in late 2009. He has followed the evolution of the barbecue joint through the triumph of its growth and the tragedy of the fire that ravaged the pit room in 2017. In the process, he befriended Aaron and Stacy Franklin, who have provided him with a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of two different pit rooms at their East Austin barbecue joint, where the tender brisket and pulled pork routinely merit hours-long lines from visitors.

“I’ve had a front-row seat to the Franklin phenomenon and a chance to document a good bit of it,” McSpadden said. “The Franklin story is a true American story about a young couple with a dream who made it real with hard work, generosity, resilience—and some magic ingredient where they turn waiting for hours to get in the door into a positive.” A regular himself, McSpadden was also able to document Franklin Barbecue in his 2015 cookbook. “I’m lucky to have been able to witness Franklin Barbecue rise, get knocked down, and come back even stronger,” he told me. “It’s an amazing story, and I’m grateful to be able to document it.”

Explore Franklin Barbecue’s new pits in person at Franklin & Friends, a kickoff event in the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest Weekend, November 3–4, in Austin. Stay tuned for early-bird tickets in July!

Tags: BBQ, Food, Franklin Barbecue


  • Kozmo

    I remember life in Austin B.F., Before Franklin’s. Or should that be Before Franklins’ Hype? We actually did OK and nobody starved. There is plenty of good BBQ in town and even more in Lockhart — which you can drive to, eat your fill, and return from in less time than the typical wait to get served at Franklin’s. The brisket’s good, the one time I was able to taste some, but the rest was unexceptional, and only masochists and poseurs — “Guess how long *I* waited at Fanklin’s today! — would subject themselves to this ridiculous chain-gang line. That’s making a fetish out of a meal.

  • Chris Anderson

    Frank’s over rated. Blacks is better. Far better

  • Groucho55

    I’ve never had the Q there and would like to someday. i find it funny that the author considers this a “tragedy”, when from what I’ve read about the fire, nobody was injured or died in the fire. i know it was disastrous to the Franklin’s business and for their customers who patronize it. But consider it could come back to life after the rebuild. Typically, a tragedy as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary means, “An event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe.
    ‘a tragedy that killed 95 people’
    ‘his life had been plagued by tragedy
    Sure it was a serious accident! But a tragedy, I think of families separated at the border or a school shooting as tragedies and think that some other word could have been employed to convey the misfortune that befell the Franklin’s business. It’s just one persons opinion.