The Davis family, owners of KC’s BBQ look on as the fire department works to bring a fire at their restaurant under control early on Feb. 17. Photo: Jason Django Young

A fire broke out last night at KC’s BBQ in West Berkeley. The restaurant, which had been operating for close to 50 years at 2613 San Pablo Ave. suffered “pretty severe damage,” during the fire, according to Dave Brannigan, the deputy fire chief at the Berkeley Fire Department.

The fire department got the call at 12:32 a.m. Feb. 17, and the Berkeley Police Department was already on the scene, said Brannigan.

Once the fire department arrived, the rear of the building, where the kitchen was located, was “all flashed over,” said Brannigan. The front dining area, at that time, was full of smoke but not yet burning.

It took the fire department half an hour to get the fire under control.

Scroll down for more photos of the fire.

While it was clear that the fire was concentrated in the kitchen area, the cause of the fire is under investigation, said Brannigan. Because of the damage, he said, “it will take awhile for us to narrow it down.”

Brannigan estimates that the fire did around $500,000 worth of damage to the restaurant.

The family-run restaurant opened in 1968, serving soul food and an array of barbecue classics, all topped with a sweet-leaning Kansas City-style barbecue sauce. Patrick Davis, the son of the founder, runs the joint today. His popular dishes include the ribs, beef brisket and hot links, which are made in-house.

It has many fans on Yelp, who loved both the food and the atmosphere. “This is a great, no-nonsense family business putting down some real BBQ without any BS,” wrote customer Michael S.

Reader Justin Lee described the restaurant as “sort of a … Berkeley institution-hole-in-the-wall.”

We have reached out to the Davis family for comment, and will update this story as we learn more. See below for more photographs of the fire.

The Feb. 17 fire, which had fully engulfed the kitchen at KC’s BBQ, caused “severe damage” according to the Berkeley Fire Department. Photo: Jason Django Young
The Davis family members, owners of KC’s BBQ at the fire scene Feb. 17 Photo: Jason Django Young
The Berkeley Fire Department working to put out the fire at KC’s BBQ on Feb. 17. Photo: Jason Django Young
The fire at KC’s BBQ started early in the morning Feb. 17. Photo: Jason Django Young

Kate Williams has been writing about food since 2009. After spending two years developing recipes for cookbooks at America’s Test Kitchen, she moved to Berkeley and began work as a freelance writer and...