The Day Southern Soul Barbeque Burned Down
“May this shovel,
Release your trouble
Lay them far away…”
Not a good day for the residents of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Around 11 AM this morning, the venerable eatery Southern Soul Barbecue burned down. Strong winds and the building's old pine structure did not help contain the fire. As of now, the cause of the fire is undetermined. I heard sirens, but when my mother called to say a neighbor rode by and Southern Soul was burning, I called owner Griffin Bufkin.
“What’s going on?” I asked, hoping to interrupt him during a Saturday pre-lunch rush.
“Southern Soul is burning…”
“I’m on the way…”
“Yeah, come see this with me…"
Griffin and co-owner Harrison Sapp watched the flames destroy everything they’d worked for from a sandy road near their barbecue joint…with smoke, cops and firemen everywhere. Southern Soul just filmed an episode for Dives, Diners and Drive-Ins as well as an upcoming feature on Barbecue Pitmasters. I walked up and Griffin asked me,
“Did you bring your camera?”
“Yes, but I don’t have the heart to take a picture of that…”
I stood there and thought, ‘This is the Georgia Theatre all over again.’ One night, not long ago, Griffin, his chef Joel, an employee John Bostick and I stood on the roof of Southern Soul overlooking the St. Simons roundabout. I’ve driven by this building a thousands times in 36 years, but I never stood on the roof. Now, I’m glad I did. It’s gone.
They’re covered…they will rebuild. What a stone-cold bummer. Even kids love this place. I’ve known Harrison and Griffin for many years, and they are resilient dudes…they will be back. A void will exist in the local community until they return. I just spoke with Griffin, and he’s fulfilling a wedding they had to cater on Jekyll Island this evening and that speaks volumes. A while ago, in weird symbolism, I dropped my phone in a water puddle from the fire trucks earlier today while walking back from the convenience store next door. I’m enclosing links of our recent contributions from Southern Soul’s owner and Swampland’s Victuals Editor Griffin Bufkin. We will constantly posts updates in this soulful saga. Swampland sends condolences to everyone at Southern Soul. Soul Brother #1,