Watch: Aaron Franklin discusses the early morning fire at Franklin Barbecue

10:36 a.m. update:

The Austin Fire Department says that the fire at Franklin Barbecue was an accident caused by a wind-blown ember from a pit that ignited combustible surrounding materials. The fire is estimated to have done $200,000 worth of structural damage and $150,000 worth of content damage.


A fire destroyed part of Franklin Barbecue, one of Austin’s most iconic businesses, early Saturday. Nobody was injured in the blaze.

James Beard Award-winning pitmaster Aaron Franklin said he received the call at 5:37 a.m. alerting him that his restaurant was on fire. He jumped in his truck and headed to the restaurant he and wife Stacy opened at 900 E. 11th St. in 2011.

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He and his team deal with fire everyday, so he says he didn’t freak out when he first heard the news. But when he arrived, he realized the fire was much worse than he expected.

The smokehouse, where the fire originated after what Franklin suspects was an errant ember that escaped the smoke box, was almost completely destroyed. Part of the roof had caved in, and the walk-in coolers suffered serious damage.

“Damage is certainly worse than I thought it was going to be,” Franklin said following a walk-thru with the Austin Fire Department. “We deal with fire everyday. It was inevitable someday something was going to be a problem. I just hope we can get it back together.”

The fire was contained to the room that houses the smokers, however, so the restaurant’s kitchen and dining room only suffered smoke damage.

“There was not as much property loss as most restaurants would have,” Franklin said.

Franklin said he assumes the entire frame of the smokehouse will have to be torn down and rebuilt.

“I kind of had a gameplan to get us back open, but going inside kind of crushed that,” Franklin.

Franklin said he still hopes they will be able to reopen in a few weeks, but they will have to wait for the rain to cease before a full analysis can be done.

“It’s odd for me to not be cheerful,” Franklin said in between some laughs and levity. “I got some thoughts going on for sure. I’m not so upset about what’s already happened; I am more looking toward what we’re going to do going forward.”



Hurricane Harvey prep plan: Stuck inside? Here’s what to order from Uber Eats

You are going to be spending a lot of time indoors this weekend. You may need food delivered. While there are plenty of delivery options, Uber Eats is definitely one of the most affordable and has a decent range of options. If you are morally opposed to order from Uber, I won’t argue with you.

Credit: Uber

But, should you be inclined to tap that app this weekend, here are some ideas from a professional food order. And, yes, I am working under the assumption all of these restaurants remain open. And, yes, expect longer-than-usual waits.

  • Bison quinoa hash and chicken butternut squash macaroni from Snap Kitchen
  • Cheeseburger from Wholly Cow Burgers
  • Southern Belle cupcake from Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop
  • Sausage, cheese and jalapeno kolache from Kolache Factory
  • Cochinita pibil plate from Tamale House East
  • Strawberry spinach salad from Stinson’s Bistro
  • Do your thing at Southside Flying Pizza
  • Pepperoni pizza and kale salad from Unit-D Pizzeria
  • Build-your-own pizza from Hoboken Pie
  • Arrabiata from House Pizzeria
  • Honey Bastard from Cane Rosso
  • Grilled chicken and arugula salad from Juliet Italian Kitchen
  • Falafel platter and gyro platter from The Halal Guys
  • Italian sandwich from Snarf’s Sandwiches
  • Cheesesteak from Way South Philly
  • Deviled egg salad sub from Toastie’s Sub Shop
  • Waylon & Willie from Burro Cheese Kitchen
  • Cowboy combo from Flyrite Chicken
  • Lucky’s puccia from Lucky’s Puccia
  • The Maine Event from Dock and Roll
  • Lomo saltado from Llama’s Peruvian
  • Pastrami sandwich and pretzel from Easy Tiger
  • Goat and gnocchi from Chicon
  • Brisket from Scotty’s BBQ
  • Burger and Connecticut lobster roll fro Garbo’s
  • Butternut squash ravioli from Hillside Farmacy
  • Gobi manchurian and chicken tikka masala from Teji’s
  • Doro wot from Taste of Ethiopia
  • Protein 2000 from Veggie Heaven
  • Pan-roasted chicken from Contigo
  • Muffaletta from Sawyer & Co.
  • Shredded lamb naanini from Tarka
  • Chirashi bowl from Kyoten Sushiko
  • Vindaloo from Clay Pit



Hurricane Harvey plan: Here’s what to order at the Alamo Drafthouse

It is about to rain in Austin. A lot. For a while. (Check out the Statesman’s excellent coverage here.) So, you might decide, “Hey, I should go spend an inordinate amount of time in an Alamo Drafthouse.” It”ll be your own little Fantastic Fest. (And, yes, pay for each screening you attend.)

The Beyond Meat burger at Alamo Drafthouse. (Tamir Kalifa AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Anytime a friend visits a new restaurant, or I am at one in a new city, we always text, “What’s the order?” So, while I’m sure you have your go-to Alamo Drafthouse orders, here’s my advice.

For anyone who is not a vegan:

Don’t start with popcorn. Rookie move. You will fill up fast and won’t be able to eat your meal. Order popcorn (ask for “light butter”) and/or chips and queso, AFTER you eat your meal.

Keep these handy:

Sour Patch Kids.


Crushed avocado toast with chili flakes and lemon. Tap into your inner millennial and pay $7 for the toast.  It is bright, has some fat and comes sliced for easy sharing. Also, fried pickles, cuz duh. Also, RIP mozz sticks.

Entree for the meat-eaters:

Pizza with Brussels sprouts, smoked bacon and goat cheese. Blue Hawaii used to be my go-to pizza order, and they even served it for a while after it left the menu. But, no longer. So, go with this one. You get your veggies, and the goat cheese gives a nice citrus balance to the smoky bacon and complements the vegetal tang of the sprouts. If you’re hungover (or plan to be), order the pepperoni (RIP Raging Bull). Pair the pizza with a 512 Pecan Porter.

Entree for the vegetarians:

The Beyond Meat veggie burger will shock and awe you. Order the Spicy Blue version with hot sauce, aioli and blue cheese. Pair it with a Five Rivers Cabernet Sauvignon. If you’re too scared to eat something in the dark that so closely resembles beef, get the spaghetti squash with marinara and mozzarella. Acid, salt and fat.

NOW order your chips and queso and popcorn.

Dessert: The Triple Chocolate shake on the special “Ingrid Goes West” menu. It has cereal crumbles and whipped cream. And lots o’ chocolate. You can’t ‘Gram it, but it’s good.

One more sly tip: When everything closes, the Alamo is often open. During the ICY GRIP of 2007, when all restaurants were closed, I ordered a pizza to-go from the Drafthouse. I looked like a genius.

For which movies to see (and abstruse music and culture jokes), follow Statesman movie critic Joe Gross on Twitter.

For the full Alamo Drafthouse menu (at least South Lamar’s), click here.


Rosen’s Bagel Co. now serving bagels out of Brew & Brew in East Austin

After several months of pop-ups, Rosen’s Bagel Co. has found its somewhat-permanent home. The bagel company from Tom Rosen operates six days a week out of Brew & Brew (500 San Marcos St.) in East Austin. The bagel operation is closed on Tuesday.

(Credit: Nicolai McCrary)

Rosen serves about a half-dozen varieties of bagels, including everything, poppy seed, sesame seed and rosemary salt, and tops them with a variety of schmears, from the traditional plain and scallion to more creative offerings like maple syrup almond and lemon-basil. Rosen’s Bagel Co. operates out of the Brew & Brew kitchen, with customers ordering their bagels at the same counter where they order their drinks.

Rosen, who also has history working in fine dining, earned a graduate degree in sociology studying gender and food issues, but after school, he couldn’t “ignore the creeping influence of wanting to do something creative.”

The Topeka, Kansas native attended Vanderbilt University for his undergraduate education frequently visited his friends’ families’ homes on the East Coast, which originally turned him onto bagels.

“It was a transcendent experience,” Rosen said.

Confounded by the lack of great bagel options in Austin and the question of whether East Coast bagels could be replicated here, Rosen started working on his bagel recipe about 18 months ago before landing on his current recipe. Recognizing that the famed water in which New York City bagels are boiled is more basic and softer, Rosen changed the pH levels of Austin tap water to arrive at his current recipe.

In addition to the regular bagel and schmear offerings, Rosen’s Bagel Co. will also serve a lox sandwich special and have a breakfast and two lunch sandwiches on the menu daily, with a vegan option at both breakfast and lunch.


Aaron Franklin appears as guest judge on tonight’s ‘Chopped Grill Masters’ on the Food Network

How’d you like to try and woo and wow James Beard Award-winner Aaron Franklin with your grilling prowess? That will be the challenge for four contestants on tonight “Chopped Grill Masters,” the cooking show off-shoot of the popular “Chopped.”

Aaron Franklin rocks the cafeteria look at Hi Lo. (Credit: Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Franklin will join show host Ted Allen, TV personality Maneet Chauhan and Stanton Social Chris Santos of New York’s Stanton Social, as contestants compete for the final slot in the show’s grand finale with challenges that include making a vegetable “steak,” and cooking with dragon fruit and mesquite powder. The show airs at 9 p.m. CST on the Food Network.

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Study shows Austin diners are some of the best tippers in the country

Maybe it’s because many Austinites have worked in the service industry. Maybe it’s because the average consumer here is sensitive to the city’s high cost of living. Maybe it’s simply the metrics of the study and data compiled. Regardless, July consumer data tracked by Square, “which provides transaction software and related credit card-processing equipment to retailers throughout the United States,” according to the Austin Business Journal, shows that people in Austin (at least in July) are really good tippers.

The Tomahawk pork chop is on the menu at the revamped Stagecoach Inn in Salado. (Cody Graham)

The data, analyzed and charted by San Francisco Business Chronicle and the Houston Business Journal, revealed that the average consumer tipped 16.7 percent in July, just behind San Antonio at 16.8 percent. The data came from “retailers ranging from small businesses to those as large as Whole Foods Market Inc.,” according to the Chronicle and Journal, though you can’t tip on your card at the Whole Foods in downtown Austin, so, who knows. Anywho …

Austin ranked #5 among the Top 30 cities in America, while Pittsburgh was #1 at 17.6 percent. Dallas and Houston came in tied for 9th, at 16.3 percent. Where do you apparently not want a job in the service industry? Cleveland, which came in 30th, with an average tip of 14 percent. Check out the full list and graphics here. 

Cisco’s to remain open under new ownership team that includes founder’s grandson and co-owner of Antone’s

Score one for the preservation of Old Austin. Legendary East Austin migas spot and regular hangout for politicos and locals, Cisco’s will remain open at 1511 E. Sixth St.

An ownership team that includes Matt Cisneros, grandson of restaurant founder and namesake Rudy “Cisco” Cisneros; Antone’s co-owner Will Bridges; commercial builder and co-owner of historic Hoffbrau Steakhouse Rick McMinn; and Bryan Schneider, a local business and real estate investor, intends few immediate changes for the restaurant that opened in 1946. Future updates will include the addition of a liquor license and evening hours, but there is no announced timeline for those changes.

Credit: Ralph Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Previous owner Clovis Cisneros, Matt Cisneros’ uncle, had put the restaurant in the 103 year-old building on the market last year for $3.5 million after unsuccessfully trying to sell it in 2010.

“I got burned out,” Clovis Cisneros told the Statesman’s John  Kelso in 2010. “I’ve been coming in here 40-something years and I’ve had enough. Can you imagine waking up on weekends and putting out a thousand orders of migas in one day?”

An Austin native, Bridges, who is a partner in Lamberts and helped revive Antone’s along with Gary Clark Jr., made a similar move in 2014, when he and his father purchased Austin institution Deep Eddy Cabaret. While they added liquor and credit card payments, the vibe and aesthetic remained true to the original version. I’d expect a similarl update but not overhaul at the restaurant Cisneros opened more than 70 years ago.

“It has been a lifelong dream of mine to not only keep Cisco’s going, but to one day be a part of the ownership,” Matt Cisneros said. “It is our hope that with this new team, we can preserve an iconic East Austin institution that my grandfather founded over 65 years ago and help maintain its place in East Austin’s culture.  We look forward to continuing to serve our East Austin neighbors and Austin residents, who together have been instrumental in keeping this local establishment alive for the better part of a century.”