Horn BBQ gives away turkeys for Thanksgiving day after devastating fire

A burned-down building didn’t stop the owner of Horn Barbecue from giving away turkeys Wednesday. 

The devastating fire happened in the early hours of Tuesday morning, but Pitmaster Matt Horn still felt compelled to serve the community in time for Thanksgiving, even after part of the Horn BBQ building partially burned down.

He doesn't stop being a pillar of generosity in the community, even if he can’t serve his barbecue from Mandela Parkway anymore.

This is Horn’s third annual turkey giveaway. It became a gathering of people in need and people in support, with the hope that Horn would rise from the ashes.

"Usually, we’ll do a hot meal," said Horn.

Despite the kitchen being out of commission, they had frozen turkeys, pies donated by Edith’s pies, water bottles, and stovetop stuffing to give away to families in need.

"It’s always been community first with us," said Horn. "I’m still dealing with the shock and the emotions of that, but to come out here to give turkeys away to those who need turkeys, that’s the most important thing."

"I was just thinking about how I was going to get a turkey, they’re like 50-something dollars, and I was driving by, and I saw this and this made my day," said Stephen Demastus, who received a turkey and a pie.

When it’s open, Horn BBQ is known for providing leftovers to nearby unhoused communities at the end of the day.

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"They’re still giving as the place is burning," said Thomas, who is unhoused.

Many recipients jumped in to help them set up, including Thomas. 

"I wanted to give a hand on giving out the meals and also taste the food," he said. 

"We know how it is to be affected with your finances and livelihood," said Andrea Frazier, an unhoused woman who said Horn BBQ has provided her with meals and bones for her dogs.

Celebrity chef Tyler Florence came by to help with the giveaway, as well as Councilmember Treva Reid and Fire Chief Damon Covington, along with a group of Oakland firefighters showing their support.

"We’re hoping that they will rebuild and continue to be part of the Oakland community," said Covington. "We need more community businesses that really care and give back."

"We talk about being thankful during the holiday season and here I am thankful for the outpouring love from the community," said Horn. 

Horn has two other Oakland restaurants, Matty’s Old Fashioned and Kowbird. He said he’s focused on working with insurance to reopen Horn BBQ as soon as possible.

"Us relocating to another city or picking up and, doing the barbecue somewhere else," he said, shaking his head, "No, I’m committed to Oakland."

The fire is still under investigation.

If you’d like to donate to help Horn BBQ rebuild, Horn's wife is raising funds on GoFundMe: Horn Barbecue Fire Restoration