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!