When welder Bryan Furman quit his day job to open B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue in Savannah in 2014, he’d never owned a restaurant, and he’d only been smoking meat as an amateur.
But Furman’s idea to raise local heritage hogs and offer side dishes using locally sourced produce quickly set B’s Cracklin’ apart. And 2015 features in Southern Living and Garden & Gun suddenly had barbecue aficionados flocking to his door.
Then, tragedy struck, when a fire burned the restaurant down. However, pitmasters and chefs from restaurants around the Southeast, including Southern Soul on St. Simons Island and Fox Bros. and Kimball House in Atlanta, came to the rescue and helped Furman reopen in a new Savannah location. And in September, he opened a second B’s Cracklin’ location in Atlanta.
Located in a tidy, no frills building on Main Street in Riverside, it features a full menu of whole hog pork, ribs, chicken and brisket, and signature sides, including hoe cakes, collard greens, baked macaroni and cheese and South Carolina-style hash and rice.
Last week at B’s, Furman talked about his barbecue journey and how it led him to Atlanta.
“I lived in Atlanta for about five years, when I was welding,” Furman said. “But when I came back to Atlanta for a fundraiser at Kimball House after Savannah burned down, chef Ryan Smith of Staplehouse told me I needed a plan to be in Atlanta.”
Less than a year later, Furman’s wife, Nikki, found the Riverside building, formerly Hottie Hawgs BBQ, on Craigslist.
“When we found the place, it had only been closed for three months, so we were able to come straight in here with everything,” Furman said. “That’s how I was able to open so quickly. It had the smokehouse, and I’m going to be able to put three mobile smokers behind it in the parking lot.”
Asked about his style of barbecue, Furman goes back to his South Carolina roots.
“I’m from the Midlands area of South Carolina, where it’s mustard-based sauce,” Furman said. “Growing up, my dad cooked chicken and ribs, so I learned that by watching him. My pork and brisket came when I got a smoker, around 2007.
“It’s all the same concept. I cook chicken and ribs for four or five hours and pork and brisket for 10 hours. I use a salt rub, or salt and pepper, and smoke. But I don’t compare my barbecue to any style. I just say it’s my style.”
While his smoked meats may be the epitome of barbecue simplicity, Furman’s famous peach mustard barbecue sauce is a tad more exotic.
“I infused the peaches in my sauce to give it some Georgia flavor, so it wouldn’t be like straight up Carolina mustard sauce,” he said. “I’ve been putting peaches in my coleslaw, too.”
Among recent developments, Furman just struck a deal with Heinz to be part of a new pitmasters series of barbecue sauces, though he won’t be giving up the recipe for his peach mustard sauce.
“They won’t get that,” he said.
2061 Main St. N.W., Atlanta. 678-949-9912.
More images from a First Look at B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue in Riverside.