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Longtime Austin eatery House Park BBQ damaged in fire, none injured

Roberto Villalpando
Austin American-Statesman
Matthew Sullivan, co-owner and operator of House Park Bar-B-Que, surveys the damage at the restaurant after a fire early Tuesday.

A home for Austin barbecue since 1943, House Park BBQ was heavily damaged in a fire early Tuesday.

As many as 30 firefighters using 10 vehicles responded around 4:20 a.m. to the fire in the 900 block of West 12th Street in Central Austin.

Austin fire officials said via Twitter that the “fire was quickly brought under control but the building suffered extensive fire and smoke damage.”

No one was injured, fire officials said, and the cause remains under investigation.

Among House Park BBQ’s generations of fans was the late American-Statesman columnist John Kelso, who profiled the restaurant in a 2016 article headlined “Texans know you don’t have to wait hours in line for good BBQ” — a line taken from a quote by restaurant operator Matt Sullivan.

Kelso described the experience of eating at the restaurant this way: “You’ll smell like a sausage link when you walk out the door, and the neighborhood dogs will try to jump in your car.“

He also marveled at the barbecue pit and joked that “the lid on this pit has more meat fat hanging on it than Chris Christie. This pit has been fired up since House Park opened in 1943. This pit is so old that it qualifies for Social Security."