BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — KC’s Barbecue in Berkeley is known for its tasty ribs and delicious sausages. Perhaps it’s too good; a victim of its own success. Some neighbors who live behind the business complained to the city, saying the barbecue odor and smoke are way too strong for the neighborhood.
Berkeley city inspectors came out to check the outdoor smoker at the restaurant. In December, the city sent a violation notice to KC’s and asked the business to stop using the smoker immediately.
“We can’t use our smoker, we can’t have a business. It’s a barbecue joint. That’s our primary source of cooking,” said owner Kristen Davis.
Three generations of the Davis family run the business, including Davis’ grandfather and father.
KC’s Barbecue has been in business in Berkeley for 50 years. A fire destroyed their previous location in 2017. They reopened in 2018 at a new location near the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Gilman Street.
“We had that devastating fire, now we have to put up with this. Unbelievable. But saying that, we’re not giving up,” said Kristen’s father, Patrick Davis.
So far, more than 4,000 people have signed their petition online and in person at the restaurant. The petition is demanding the City of Berkeley to allow them to use the outdoor smoker. The city says they’re not targeting the barbecue restaurant. They have to respond to neighbors’ complaints.
“It’s not just the smoke, it’s the impact of the smoke. Residents nearby have complained of headaches, and smoke coming into their homes, and dizziness,” explained city spokesman Matthai Chakko.
The neighbors who filed the complaints did not talk on camera. One neighbor sent a cell phone video of the smoke streaming out of the smoker. The Davis family has since added a smoke stack and filter to reduce the amount of smoke.
But neighbors say the smoke is still intolerable, filling nearby yards and houses with thick barbecue smoke.
KC’s has filed an appeal with the city. They’re waiting for their hearing date. For now, they’re still allowed to use the smoker pending the outcome of the appeal hearing.