AUSTIN - The pits, the wood, and of course the brisket - three ingredients to a perfect welcome back party.
“We have no idea who's coming to our party tomorrow,” said Stacy Franklin, standing next to her husband and co-owner Aaron inside their famed restaurant, Franklin Barbecue.
While the pair may not know exactly who will be coming, big crowds have never been an issue at their beloved hotspot.
Still, it’s been a while since those crowds had a chance to come inside after a fire shut down their kitchen in August.
“We built it from pretty much nothing anyway, so it's really – what’s another project, just build it again,” joked Aaron Franklin, as he reflected on receiving the initial news of the fire.
Fortunately, the restaurant was salvageable – and has been the focus of a months-long renovation. For what’s consistently one of the most packed restaurants in the city, the closing of the doors brought a change to a normally consistent schedule.
“Probably about the first month was pretty good - we were like 'ahh... we went and saw some movies, and had lunch at normal lunch time,’” explained Aaron Franklin.
But the past two months have been a very different story. From permitting to contracting, the Franklin's have hustled to re-open by Thanksgiving.
“We built new cookers outside, they're in trailers - so we're on a lot that we usually don't use,” Aaron explained.
They've also re-done the kitchen and completed touch-ups to the front portion, many of which were completed with a helping hand from their staff.
“They're painting. They're drilling things, and it's just fun. They're learning new things and they don't want to do it anymore. They want to serve barbecue,” said Stacy.
“Getting the restaurant up to snuff – we had to redo the kitchen, we had water damage, smoke damage, the fire crept up through the ceiling and stuff. Redid the patio. Ended up just fixing up the front part while we were closed,” added Aaron.
On Tuesday, that long wait will finally be over, and the focus will switch back to the food.
Initially, there will be some changes. Due to the limited pits, instead of the 120 briskets and 70 racks of ribs a day, they will be making 75 briskets and 40 racks of ribs for the time being.
“That doesn't mean we're going to have less food for lunch, we're just going to trim back the pre-orders we usually do,” Stacy explained.
That change will be temporary, with the Franklins planning to begin pre-orders as early as next week, with plans to get back up to full speed before Dec. 14.
The excitement even led Franklin to send his first tweet in two years – a post that generated a lot of attention.
“Yeah, not a big Twitter guy,” joked Franklin.
Regardless of the challenges of re-opening, Stacy and Aaron said they've learned a lot about their community.
“The most emotional thing I witnessed through this whole thing is not the fire. It's not working on the building. It's how much people care about us, which reflects in the city helping us with permits. That reflects in the guys that are building the smokehouse, the framers, the architects, contractor, everybody. And the customers that are trying to help. People that are excited about us re-opening. It’s kind of weird to reflect in that way – like wow, people think we’re neat,” said Aaron.
It’s the people who care and plan on showing up to grab a plate of meat Tuesday. And like always, you can expect folks to line up hours before opening.
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