The fire at KC’s BBQ on Feb. 17. Photo: Jason Django Young

After a damaging fire destroyed much of KC’s BBQ, the historic, family-run barbecue restaurant at 2613 San Pablo Ave., its owners are raising money to rebuild.

“We the Davis Family still carry the soul of what makes KC’s BBQ – KC’s BBQ,” Kristen Davis, the daughter of the owner, told Nosh in an email. “Buildings can be replaced but you can’t fake tradition, soulfulness, artisan cuisine, and hospitality.”

While the Davis family does not yet have clear plans for the restaurant, which suffered around $500,000 worth of damage during the Feb. 17 fire, it is looking to “move forward the best way we know how as a family unit,” they write on the restaurant’s Go Fund Me page. The family is looking to raise at least $100,000 through the crowdfunding website, and has currently raised $8,100 as of press time.

The family is also holding a fundraiser event March 4 at San Pablo Park from noon to 4 p.m.

The event, which was originally scheduled to take place at the restaurant, is both a 50 year anniversary party and a chance to raise additional rebuilding funds. It will include lunch specials, music from Almighty CJ Flash, and time to reminisce. The Davis family writes: “Join us as we continue to honor our families legacy of exceptional service within the East Bay community. Our restaurant has always operated as more than just a place to eat. We have created a family that extends from Berkeley to the entire country.”

The fire, which began around midnight Feb. 17, was concentrated in the kitchen area. The cause is currently under investigation. Because of the damage, “it will take awhile for us to narrow it down,” said Dave Brannigan, the deputy fire chief at the Berkeley Fire Department.

No one was injured during the fire, but much of the Davis family heirlooms that decorated the dining area were destroyed or severely damaged, said the Davis family. However, the BFD was able to recover some items. The family wrote on the Go Fund Me page: “As a family we would also like to acknowledge and offer our deepest gratitude to the Berkeley Fire Department for crawling through clouds of smoke to recover original family photos and what they could of the restaurant.”

The dining room at KC’s BBQ was filled with family heirlooms, many of which were destroyed in the fire. Photo: Ted Friedman

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, many of whom showed an outpouring of support on the restaurant’s Facebook page after the news of the fire broke.

Chris Hope wrote: “Well we lost a Berkeley Treasure last night as KC BBQ caught fire and was gutted! Sad day for us in btown that have eaten there so many times. Let’s keep Pat and the davis’s in our prayers.”

Sean Broadnax added: “A very sad day indeed. My wonderful long time friends Kc Bar B-Q Lost their kitchen to a fire last night. A bay Area foodie institution Since 1968 has been lost due to the destructive flames.”

A Berkeleyside reader, Tony Abeyta, commented on the original story: “I loved this place! Im super mad at my friend eddie who told me not to eat so much red meat… I listened.. and didnt go to KCs just before it burned. now I regret not eating those savory perfectly smoked, fall off the bone ribs with their well balanced sauce and now its gone… forever! I should throw my friend into the smoker.”

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

Marisa Alvarez said on Facebook: “They had the coolest old school, antique decor and photos.”

“Oh no,” wrote Andrew Nakaso on Facebook, “The best BBQ in Berkeley.”

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...