Matt Horn is a man of steady faith—and commitment, even when times are tough. And they can be tough in Oakland, California, for sure.
Popular West Oakland restaurant Horn Barbeque was significantly damaged in a fire early Tuesday morning (Nov 21), just days before Thanksgiving. But Matt Horn, the acclaimed, Michelin restaurant’s chef owner faced the nightmare head on—even continuing with his promised Thankgiving Give-Away two days later, and he’s inspired many small business owners in the process.
Horn arrived to work on Monday, only to be met by the sight of graffiti scrawled all over his charcoal-hued building. The vandals had tried unsuccessfully to break into the restaurant’s food trailer as well.
In disgust, he appealed to fellow small business owners affected by crime to unite to support each other, calling the vandals “nothing more than the filth that plagues our beautiful city.”
“Your actions are a pathetic display of disrespect and ignorance, attacking not just our business but the very fabric of our community in which you inhabit,” Horn said in his post. “You represent the worst of us, but let me make this clear to you, you will not define us. We stand firmer, more united, and more determined in the face of your senseless vandalism.”
The next day his restaurant was torched
KGO News—Matt Horn admits it was tough to come to work on Wednesday – the day after his Oakland restaurant was burned and kitchen destroyed.
“Had it not been for today’s giving, it would have been tough for me to leave the house to be completely honest with you,” says Horn.
But Horn, owner of the Michelin-rated Horn BBQ in West Oakland, says he made a commitment: a turkey giveaway for Thanksgiving.
“We are committed to coming out and serving the community. It is something that we do. And despite any challenges and adversity we may face, I want to continue to move forward and stay committed to that,” he says.
And many in the community lined up at his restaurant, counting on that commitment.
“It’s been hard since COVID, struggling, and working. We’re living paycheck to paycheck,” explains Oakland resident Eresmo Flores. “It is good to know that we have somebody that is there for you.”
He is one of the more than 100 people who were able to get a free turkey.
Usually, the turkeys would be distributed inside. And, there would be warm meals to give away. But the fire damage made that difficult to do.
Horn called out vandals who tagged his restaurant in an Instagram post. He posted that on Monday. Then, the restaurant caught fire on Tuesday. Horn suspects he was targeted.
“We need more community businesses that really care and give back,” says Oakland Fire Chief Damon Covington.
Covington says there is no update on the fire investigation. He and his crew came out to support Horn’s turkey giveaway. Even celebrity chef Tyler Florence was on hand.
“So, it means everything to us that Horn would continue to operate and care about our community, even through this disaster,” says Covington.
“I didn’t think that he was actually going to be able to pull it off and he actually pulled it off. He has really been an asset to the community,” says Oakland native Sabrena Flennauga.
Horn says the fire has given him a new perspective this holiday. But no change to his commitment to his community.
“We are committed to Oakland. We are committed to being here in the community. And you know, this temporary situation doesn’t distract from what our true purpose here is,” says Horn.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help restore the restaurant. To donate, click here.