Pictures courtesy Tom W.
Yesterday morning, I woke up to my parents' phone call. One of my favorite restaurants on the planet, Southern Soul Barbecue of St. Simons Island, suffered a catastrophic fire.
A historic building, a trove of folk art, and cookin' so good you wanna slap ya mama. Gone before the first firetrucks could show up from down the road.
Thank the Lord, no one died in the blaze. The place had just opened for lunch on a beautiful spring Saturday, and it doesn't take long for the place to fill up. Rebuilding is cheaper than funerals.
I remember when Southern Soul got its start several years ago, as Palm Coast Coffee was expanding to include coffee and craft brewed beers. I took off for New Orleans soon after, and when I came back Southern Soul was everywhere.
They moved into the building formerly occupied by Gisco Seafood. That building faced the Island's most important intersection, and was built in a clapboardish style that let you know you were on the southern coast. The seafood market closed, but Southern Soul got the building. Everyone I know was thrilled that another local business would take over the spot and keep it the way it was. Then it got filled with art and people and good cookin'.
Damn. James Calemine made the call: "This is the Georgia Theatre all over again." He's not kidding. People who grew up on the Island or just vacationed there regularly know this building and these people. This place was something special.
Of course, being special, the soul folks rolled with the punches. Even with the fire, they catered a wedding and served food all weekend at the Island's art market in the Village.
Buildings may burn, but Soul is Fireproof.