A three-alarm fire broke out in the kitchen of popular Prospect Heights restaurant Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue on Wednesday afternoon, leaving the building and two stories of residential apartment units gutted.
Firefighters responded to reports of “smoke in the area” at 11:46 a.m. on Wednesday afternoon, according to New York City Fire Department officials. The fire, which started in the Morgan’s kitchen, quickly spread through residential units on the second and third floors of the building. The FDNY elevated the incident to a third-alarm fire, meaning more than 150 fire department officials were operating on-scene for the two hours it took to get the blaze under control. No citizens or fire department officials were injured in the process.
It’s not clear how much damage Morgan’s — or neighboring Iranian restaurant Sofreh — sustained from the fire, but the barbecue restaurant did not reopen for service following the incident. Firefighters were required to dismantle walls and ceilings in many of the building’s units in order to get the fire under control, according to deputy assistant chief Joseph Ferrante. This post will be updated as more information becomes available.
In a post to its Instagram story around 4:27 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, the restaurant shared: “Today we had a small kitchen fire and everyone is safe and sound. We look forward to opening again soon.”
The well-liked barbecue joint opened on the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Saint Marks Place in September 2013. Several other barbecue restaurants also opened in New York City around that time, including Red Hook’s venerable Hometown Bar-B-Que, but Morgan’s managed to stand out with help from John Avila, the famed Texas pitmaster who helped open its kitchen. In a visit to the restaurant shortly after the restaurant opened, Eater critic Robert Sietsema found a rare Austin, Texas, aesthetic and a selection of meats that he “slightly preferred” to those offered at Hometown at the time.
Avila has since departed from Morgan’s and been replaced by chef Cenobio Canalizo, but the restaurant remains one of the city’s essential barbecue institutions.
Update: Fire marshalls have determined that the cause of the fire was accidental, having started in the fire duct above the restaurant’s barbecue smoker.