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UPDATED: Following a Devastating Fire, Officials Have Closed Horn Barbecue for the Foreseeable Future

A fire on Tuesday, November 21 resulted in extensive damage to the rear of Horn Barbecue’s building and the restaurant’s closure

“Horn” painted in white cursive on the outside of the restaurant Patricia Chang

Update: November 22, 2023, 10:05 a.m. Per posts on the business Instagram, Horn BBQ has launched a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising $200,000 to reopen the restaurant “as soon as possible.” Customers who placed Thanksgiving orders from Horn BBQ can pick them up at Horn’s burger restaurant Matty’s Old Fashioned (464 8th Street, Oakland) between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesday, November 22.

A fire early Tuesday morning has closed Oakland’s Horn Barbecue for the foreseeable future, KPIX reports. Officials marked the building with a red tag, which indicates the building “poses an imminent threat to human health or safety.”

The fire department was notified of flames at the restaurant, which is located at 2534 Mandela Parkway, just after 4 a.m. on Tuesday, November 21. Firefighters say they found smoke coming out of the attic. The flames were put out by 4:46 a.m., a fire department spokesperson told the news outlet. However, the rear of the building sustained extensive damage, leading officials to red-tag the restaurant and restrict entry into the facilities.

In an interview with KTVU, Horn says early morning prep crews arrived at work to find the building in flames. He maintains that no meal preparation was happening at the time of the fire. “The whole thing burned, inside and outside,” he told the outlet.

Horn’s barbecue restaurant rose to prominence and notoriety after operating for four years as a pop-up around the Bay Area, during which time the self-taught chef honed his personal style of “West Coast barbecue.” Since the highly anticipated permanent restaurant debuted in 2020, Horn and his food have garnered numerous accolades: the restaurant was included in the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand list and was named a finalist for the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in 2022, while Horn earned a nod as one of Food and Wine’s ten “Best New Chefs” in 2021 and published a cookbook in 2022. The restaurant also has had its share of bad press, including an investigation that surfaced accusations of ongoing payment issues, sourcing woes, and on-the-job hazards.

The fire comes at both a difficult time and a pivotal moment for any restaurant — Horn Barbecue was in the midst of preparing for upcoming Thanksgiving Day orders, on top of dealing with a bout of vandalism on Monday, November 20. Eater SF has reached out to a restaurant spokesperson for information about if and how the restaurant plans to fulfill Thanksgiving orders, which were scheduled to be picked up on Wednesday, November 22 at the restaurant. A spokesperson did confirm the restaurant will continue some of its charitable work for Thanksgiving, giving away raw turkeys to those in need at 1 p.m. outside of the restaurant. The planned hot meal giveaway, however, has been canceled.

The attempted break-in of the restaurant’s trailer, along with graffiti left on one side of the restaurant, led owner Matt Horn to share his disappointment over the crime, along with harsh words for the involved parties. Although Oakland councilmember Carroll Fife told the San Francisco Chronicle that the fire “looks very intentional,” an Oakland Fire Department spokesman says they are working with Horn and his staff to “determine if any irregularities exist at the scene” and will “obtain any surveillance footage that may clarify what may have caused this fire.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.