2018 Atlanta Rising Star Pitmaster Bryan Furman of B's Cracklin' BBQ

2018 Atlanta Rising Star Pitmaster Bryan Furman of B's Cracklin' BBQ
January 2018

B's Cracklin' BBQ
12409 White Bluff Rd
Savannah, GA 31419


Growing up, Bryan Furman learned to raise pigs on his grandparents’ farm in Cassatt, South Carolina. But it wasn’t until his daughter’s first birthday party that Furman got the barbecue bug while preparing a whole hog for the celebration. Fast forward two years to Savannah: Furman brought pulled pork to a co-worker who shared his interest in barbecue. Encouraged by the response, Furman started catering on the weekends, and, by 2014, he was able to quit his job cutting metal.

He was an industry neophyte but knew that most restaurants lasted less than a year. A simple Google search of “why restaurants fail” helped him determine what he would do to stand out: raising his own heritage breed pigs in South Georgia and putting his diners and community first.

B’s Cracklin’ BBQ opened in Savannah in 2014 to fast praise. He was featured in Garden & Gun, Southern Living, and other national publications. Furman’s business model of owning the means of production (aka the hogs) was a success. In 2015, faulty equipment sparked a fire that burned the restaurant to the ground, and the community Furman worked so hard to build rallied to restore the space.

Humbled by the experience and confident they could do more, Furman and his wife Nikki moved to Atlanta to debut their second location in late in 2016. Like its Savannah flagship, the Atlanta smokehouse specializes in whole hog barbecue, chicken, and ribs slathered with vinegar-based and peach-mustard sauces. In less than a year, it earned Eater Atlanta’s 2017 “Restaurant of the Year” and “Chef of the Year Readers’ Choice.” Expansion is never far from Furman’s thoughts as he trains pitmasters to run future locations, refines hog breeding practices, and scours the South for smokehouse-ready real estate.

Interview with Atlanta Rising Star Pitmaster Bryan Furman

Caroline Hatchett: How did you get your start?
Bryan Furman:
I’m a former welder for Honda, where I built four-wheelers. I worked for a lot of Fortune 500 Companies in South Carolina and North Carolina. In 2012, I moved to Savannah, and worked as a welder and laser operator. That’s when I started to take barbecue seriously. I’ve been cooking barbecue since I was 7, something I did at home. I wanted a pig farm, to raise my own pigs. In 2013 I started raising my own pigs and selling my barbecue at my day job. At the end of that year, I got a spinal tap, but they missed and hit a nerve. I couldn’t work three for months, and it gave me the drive. I found the place in June 2014, and then in October quit my job and stared B’s Cracklin’. 

CH: Who's your mentor?
: I have no mentors. I Googled “why restaurants fail” and found two things: loans and the concept. If your concept doesn’t work, nobody buys in, and you’re screwed. To me, culinary arts schools are a gimmick. Once people get out, they all try and open the same restaurant. They trained all these people the same thing. What I learned from hiring chefs is they don’t know how to cook, they just have technique. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of chefs because they have egos, too.

CH: How are you involved in the local culinary community?
: We sponsor local schools and the neighborhood softball team. We’re always doing fundraisers. I believe in going into communities. You take care of them, and they take care of you. If you just want to come in and make money, they push you away.

CH: What's the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
: Keeping line cooks. 

CH: What's your five-year plan?
: I’ll be 40. I’m not working in a restaurant anymore. I want to be enjoying fruits of my labor. I want to open more B’s Cracklin’ BBQ, franchise them out and have them buy product from me. I’ll train people how to make my pork and my sauce. I’ll give them a percentage. If I give away 15 percent, 85 percent is still mine. My wife trains managers and runs front of house. I train cooks, pit guys. In Savannah, I have eight people. Once they prove they can take care of that, we can go away, and then we know when to open the next one.