Austin's Franklin Barbecue Expands Its Empire

A larger kitchen and takeout window mean more meat, less line

Once upon a time, Franklin Barbecue sold its smoked, delicious wares in an East Austin parking lot.

This worked fine at first — people were lining up, the brisket was generating some buzz. But then the line grew. And grew. And Franklin Barbecue was getting noticed. Then it won Bon Appétit’s 2010 Best Barbecue in America award. It even landed a spot on our list of the 101 Best Restaurants in America this year.

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Franklin Barbecue’s fairy-tale meteoric rise to fame is made all the more impressive by its location in Austin, Texas, a city made of die-hard barbecue lovers. Fittingly, Aaron and Stacy Franklin relocated to some much-deserved new digs in Austin’s east side in March 2011. From there, things kept growing. Barbecue pilgrims line up daily, sometimes camping out before 9 a.m. and waiting for hours just to taste the best barbecue in the state, and maybe the country. They still run out of meat every day.

But maybe not for long — the joint is set to expand, not to new locations, but from within. Additional kitchen space is on the way, as well as, hopefully, a dedicated to-go window on the Franklin Barbecue patio. Now, the smokers will all be under one roof, to protect the pitmaster from inclimate weather conditions. Most importantly, though, the expansion should help shorten lines — unless barbecue devotees keep flocking to Franklin’s at the rate they have been up until now.