MARIANNA, Ark. – An Arkansas landmark went up in flames after a pit fire over the weekend, but the owner is now promising to rebuild.
Jones’ Barbeque Diner in Marianna is one of the oldest Black-owned restaurants in the country, first opening its doors in 1910.
Owner Harold Jones said a covered area where the barbecue pit is located “burned like paper.”
“I was cooking six Boston Butts, and I fired it up and I went inside for a minute…turned around and come back and it had caught a fire. And it burned from that,” Jones told WREG-TV.
The fire department said a burning ember from a barbecue pit is believed to have started the fire.
“I was cooking six Boston Butts, and I fired it up and I went inside for a minute…turned around and come back and it had caught a fire. And it burned from that,” Jones explained.
Luckily, fire crews were able to save the front dining room and carry-out section housing Jones’ many awards and his treasured guest book.
“When people that come in and out from out of town, in town too, they sign the book and tell where they’re from,” Jones said.
Local reports indicate that 70 percent of the building is damaged.
The diner was featured in a piece by FOX16 News anchor Donna Terrell in 2017, which examined how the diner pulled neighbors of all races together with the pull of pulled pork and the same secret sauce as his father and other family members who manned the pit.
Jones work has even been honored by the James Beard Foundation, with the group giving the diner and award 2012 and naming it an “American Classic.”