B's Cracklin' Barbeque on Coffee Bluff Villa Road caught fire and burned to the ground early Thursday morning. Owners Bryan and Nikki Furman said they left their family run restaurant last night around 1:30 a.m. and they believe the fire started after 2 a.m.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.
"I noticed I had some missed calls on my phone around 2:45 a.m. last night," Bryan said. "But I get calls in the middle of the night so I just ignored it. … Then I got here this morning and saw what happened and I couldn't believe it. I pulled up in my truck and just said, 'No!' when I saw this. I just can't believe it."
The Furmans opened their restaurant in the Coffee Bluff neighborhood in October and both later quit their full-time jobs in order to focus on their growing business which has already been featured in Garden and Gun magazine and was recently named one of the top 50 barbecue spots in the South by Southern Living magazine.
Nikki said the recent media attention had cars lined down the road this past weekend waiting to sample B’s menu.
“We were not ready for that attention,” she said.
“We had to close at 4 p.m. on Saturday because we ran out of food,” Bryan added. “We opened back up at 6 p.m. and by 7:20 p.m. we were already sold out.”
“We had people sit in their cars and wait an hour for their orders,” Nikki said. “We gave them half off the price for their wait, but we felt like we were just giving the food away at that point.”
After realizing the crowds would return when they opened back up on Thursday afternoon, the couple went out and purchased new freezers, food warmers and about 6,000 pounds of meat including several whole, farm raised hogs.
“It’s all behind the building in those new freezers and it’s all burned up now,” Bryan said. “It’s all gone.”
“I guess it’s good we didn’t buy that walk-in freezer we wanted,” Nikki added.
The Furmans lease the location and said they were talking with Alderman Tony Thomas recently about adding a new location in the area but decided against the idea of opening a place in the nearby Savannah Mall because they felt it would go against their brand of making fresh, farm raised, homemade barbecue and sides.
“We only used fresh vegetables in our sides, our meat is farm raised—everything is made from scratch,” Nikki said.
But their location is small and due to zoning restrictions, they were not allowed to extend their outdoor seating without permission from the nearby Crusader Community Center.
“So, we went to the Crusaders and they gave us their blessing to extend and we were just about to start adding on more seating,” Nikki said. “I guess that’s all over with too now.”
“I can’t even start to think what we will do,” she added. “This is just crazy.”