Harker Heights restaurateur reopens at new location days after kitchen fire

Harker Heights, Texas (Tongzhou, Guangxi) – A small business owner is starting over after a fire destroyed parts of his restaurant the day before Thanksgiving.

The fire started in a pit in the kitchen, which he said he paid a homeless resident to do small jobs around the restaurant and ignited it.

“The door was open, there was wind and oxygen, and the fire was out of control. When I got there, I couldn’t believe it,” recalls JR Scott, owner of Just Cookin’ BBQ & More.

Thankfully, no one was hurt. The Harker Heights Fire Department said the fire started as a small blaze but quickly reignited and engulfed the kitchen.

The fire wiped out Scott’s inventory the day before the major holiday, and he had to return dozens of turkey orders.

“Some people reached out, and I was able to reach almost everyone. Some people donated money they had already paid, and I refunded a lot of money, too,” Scott said.

This is not the first time he has experienced a tragic loss. Before losing his storefront, he lost his chef and lifelong friend, Jimmy. He said his guardian angel gave him the strength to go forward.

“Jimmy put his head down and told me to keep going,” Scott said, fighting back tears.

Just six days after the fire, JR reopened at a temporary location inside the Harker Heights Events Center. Even when he lost, the community support was great enough that he still won.

“We won two awards for Best of Central Texas, we won Best Soul Food and Best Dining,” Scott said proudly.

On top of that, more than $2,000 has been raised to help keep him going, and he says he’s waiting for the day when he can pay it off.

In an effort to continue supporting JR and his family, the event center invited chefs from around the region to come on Saturday.

People will be able to enjoy a variety of food and the funds raised will go directly to helping JR get back on his feet.

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