Popular Oakland BBQ restaurant heavily damaged by fire shortly after being graffitied

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Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Popular Oakland BBQ restaurant heavily damaged by fire
Two days after Horn Barbecue in Oakland was vandalized, it was heavily damaged by fire.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Two days after a popular East Bay restaurant was vandalized, it was heavily damaged by fire.

Horn Barbecue in West Oakland has been red-tagged due to the damage.

When Matt Horn arrived at his restaurant on Tuesday morning, he found parts of it destroyed by fire.

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"This breaks my heart. It really does. It's tough," says Horn, who just celebrated Horn BBQ's three-year anniversary.

The Oakland Fire Department says the fire broke out after 4 a.m.

Horn says he is still assessing the damage, which destroyed the kitchen and damaged the venting system, which cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars to install.

"I hear a lot of people say, well, 'Welcome to Oakland. This is Oakland.' No business owner should have to deal with their business and having their property destroyed," says Horn.

"I don't know that we can call it a total loss," says Michale Hunt with the Oakland Fire Department, who toured the restaurant. He says the outside structure is still intact.

VIDEO: Oakland business owner chases down man stealing his tow truck

Business owners in Oakland describe going to work like it's a "war zone" - battling consistent waves of violent crime.

He says OFD is reviewing surveillance video and talking with other nearby businesses as part of its investigation.

But Horn thinks the fire may have been arson.

He made a post on Instagram calling out people who tagged the side of his building. He wrote: "To you cowardly individuals responsible for this, hear me clearly: you are nothing more than the filth that plagues our beautiful city."

That was posted on Monday. The fire broke out Tuesday morning.

"The timing of it does feel, that there could be a possibility that is personal," said Horn. "My team works extremely hard. But it is becoming harder and harder to try and go out an fulfil a dream and a purpose while justifying crime."

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Still, Horn remains determined to rebuild and stand by his community.

On Wednesday, he still plans to give out 150 turkeys to those in need for Thanksgiving. They will be prepared in his outside smokers, which were not damaged.

And he plans to keep his employees working full-time hours between his two other Oakland restaurants.

"When we decided to come here, we accepted the challenges that we may face. And in order to overcome those challenges, we need to continue to walk by faith and follow that light at the end of the tunnel. And we will continue to serve our community," says Horn.

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