Franklin Barbecue reopens today after an unprecedented two-week closure, and they're back with a serious upgrade. Their new smokehouse allows the insanely popular barbecue destination to cease cooking outside 24/7 and increase capacity in an attempt to placate their hours-long lines. Eater photographer Robert J. Lerma has a look around their new space during the very first evening of cooking.
Aaron Franklin tells Eater the smokehouse solves far more problems than the obvious downside of cooking in the rain. The restaurant will be able to increase capacity thanks to their new rotisserie rib cooker (named Bethesda). The new space also has room for an additional cooker Franklin hopes to build within the next few months, and there's a take-out window in the works. The smokehouse also a freight elevator; previously the staff was hauling thousands of pounds of meat to the outside cookers.
Outside, Franklin had to cook on a 24 hour schedule to keep up with demand, but there was another reason to keep someone on site: people would jump the fence. "It was mostly homeless guys," Franklin says. "But sometimes guys from out-of-state barbecue places would do it, too. I'd always tell them, 'You should have just come up and said hi.'"
Unsurprisingly, the Franklin Barbecue smokehouse features a number of tiny, thoughtful details. The back windows are canted outwards just like the original trailer. The rib cooker Bethesda has been hand-pinstriped by a local artist, and Franklin hopes someday to convert its rotation to steam power, because "I don't like relying on electricity for cooking." Franklin says the new smokehouse "doesn't feel very dramatic," but he is excited about one way it will change the front of the house: "The inside will now smell like smoke." Take a look around below.
· All Franklin Barbecue Coverage [EATX]