Back in June, we reported on the fire that destroyed B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue in Savannah, Georgia, a promising newcomer on the Southern barbecue scene. Owners Bryan and Nikki Furman had launched their restaurant in the fall of 2014 in a modest wood-sided building on Coffee Bluff Villa Rd. just south of Savannah. Their whole-hog, heritage-breed barbecue impressed plenty of diners right out of the gate, winning them a loyal local following as well as write ups in nationally-distributed magazines, including Southern Living. Just a week before the fire reduced their restaurant to ashes, they landed a spot on our list of the Top 50 Barbecue Joints in the South.
For many young businesses, such a set-back may have spelled the end, but the Southern barbecue community and B’s loyal Savannah customers rallied to their aid. As soon as Harrison Sapp, the pitmaster at the acclaimed Southern Soul Barbeque in St. Simons, Georgia, heard the news he was on the phone with Bryan Furman.
“We’re on our way with an 84,” Sapp said.
“I said, ‘With a what?’” Bryan Furman recalls.
Sapp, it turns out, was talking about his 84-inch Lang cooker, which his brother Chris towed up to Savannah so Furman could barbecue the six whole hogs they had already ordered for the restaurant. “Chris still had his apron on when he got out of his truck,” Furman says.
They sold barbecue that Saturday in the park near the burned out restaurant, and a huge crowd turned out to show their support. After the event, Sapp returned to St. Simons, leaving the cooker behind. “Keep it until you get on your feet,” he told Furman.
“His smoker is basically what kept us going,” Furman says. Over the course of the summer, they cooked barbecue and sold it at various public events around Savannah and also in Atlanta and Asheville, North Carolina. More pitmasters and food producers—including Jonathan and Justin Fox of Atlanta’s Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q , Elliott Moss of Asheville’s Buxton Hall, Aaron Siegel of Charleston’s Home Team Barbecue, and Brandon Chonko of Grassroots Farms—pitched in to help, too.
The Furmans were unable to rebuild at their original location, but they found a new space in a shopping center just two miles away. The new digs are larger—almost 2,000 square feet—and unlike the original restaurant, where seating was limited to a few outdoor picnic tables, there’s plenty of tables and chairs in a carpeted dining room. In a nod to the exterior of their first location, the interior walls at the new one are clad in light brown wood. “To bring a little Coffee Bluff to here,” Nikki Furman explains.
“We want to expand,” she adds, “but stay true to our natural, homemade roots.” At his original restaurant, Bryan Furman was cooking on a old brick pit that he had retrofitted for whole hog. For the new location, he ordered a 108-inch double offset cooker from Lang Smokers—a larger version of the one he borrowed from Southern Soul. But he’s still firing it with real oak wood, and the pigs are locally-raised heritage breeds. Though he could make things easier by cooking shoulders or Boston butts, Furman says he’s sticking with the whole animal. “You don’t get the same quality as when you’re cooking whole hog.”
B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue is now open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday in its new location at 12409 White Bluff Road in Savannah.