Thomas Allison/Thrillist
Food & Drink

BBQ Legend Aaron Franklin on Backyard Cookouts, Bad Brisket, and Long Lines

Published On 05/25/2017
B y the time I show up to meet Aaron Franklin in his natural environment, his day is half-finished and an orderly horde of BBQ fiends, including some who've been kicking it in lawn chairs since before dawn, is already waiting in line for the restaurant to open. It's 7:30am. That's what it's like six days a week at Franklin Barbecue, the Austin powerhouse he opened in 2009 that, thanks in part to raves from the likes of Anthony Bourdain, The New York Times, and Barack Obama, is on any self-respecting meat-eater's bucket list.
Franklin has become a food celebrity in his own right, too. Since opening the restaurant in 2009, he's starred in a Chase Sapphire card ad, appeared on countless cooking shows, filmed a cameo alongside Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson in the 2014 Jon Favreau movie Chef, and published a best-selling cookbook. In May, he launched Hot Luck, his very own food and music festival.
When we meet on a crisp Austin morning, Franklin recognizes the early hour and offers me a cup of coffee. We sit down at a picnic table behind the one-location empire he's built and talk about how this all started, why he hasn't opened a chain of BBQ joints from Hollywood to Times Square, and why no one not named Obama has been allowed to skip the famous line.
Thomas Allison & Evan Lockhart / Thrillist
Thomas Allison/Thrillist

YEAH, SOME MORON PUT A BUNCH OF VIDEOS ON THE INTERNET. I TRY NOT TO THINK ABOUT IT.

Thomas Allison/Thrillist

IT'S IN OUR GENETICS TO SIT AROUND A FIRE AND "OOGA BOOGA" AND COOK A PIECE OF MEAT IN A CAVE

Thomas Allison/Thrillist

HE'S THE ONLY GUY THAT'S TECHNICALLY SKIPPED THE LINE

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