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BBQ Bus Smokehouse‘smonths at 5830 Georgia Ave. NW are numbered despite only being two years into a 10-year lease. Co-owners Che Ruddell-Tabisola and Tadd Ruddell-Tabisola started to hear murmurings their building would be sold at the end of March. “We knew a lot of that block had been slated for development,” Che says. “Petra Development reached out to us and said we’d like to help you with relocation.”
Petra Development President Rashid Salem says his company is going to build a 49-unit affordable housing complex that stretches from the vacant Graphic Box Tattoo shop through BBQ Bus. It will not have retail on the ground floor, which explains why BBQ Bus will have to relocate. “We’re going through the process to see what their needs are and to facilitate the process for them to get into a new space,” Salem says. “That’s our intent absolutely.”
While most of the properties on Petra Development’s website look like luxury homes, Salem says they’re “partnering with the city in an unofficial capacity to meet their needs of supplying housing, especially in Northwest D.C., for people that don’t have a home right now.”
Che says Petra Development told them they don’t plan to start construction until October, giving the BBQ Bus team some time to find a new space that meets their specifications. The only problem is that barbecue season in in full swing. “We’re in the height of the season and I’m spending hours looking at properties,” Che says.
City Paper initially reached out to Che after spotting a Craigslist ad on April 19. Despite the fact that the ad contained photos of Che and Tadd, they had not seen it and found it surprising. It didn’t track with what they heard from Petra Development, which caused confusion.
The ad read: “Building for Sale in up and coming area located at 5830 Georgia Avenue across from the new Walmart, near Silver Spring and Fort Totten Metros and close to the redevelopment at Walter Reed which will include 3.1 million square feet of mix use development and 20 acres of open space. The building is a single floor all brick structure with rear ally access. It has all new interior, storefront, and restaurant fixtures including new AC, grease trap, shelving, large hood and more. Operate your own business in your own building. Offers are currently on the table by developers to purchase the building. Asking $850,000 or higher offers. Looking for a fast close on the property. Ask for Jim.”
“We just got here two years ago and invested a little in here,” Che told City Paper in April. “We love this community and had every intention of staying here for the duration of our lease, if not longer.”
According to property records, the building is owned by Jim and Deborah Doherty, who purchased it in 2009 for $250,000. Reached by phone on April 19, Jim only said that he “decided to check the market to see if anyone would buy the building.” Minutes after that call, the ad was taken down from Craigslist. Jim apologized to Tadd, according to Che.
The focus now is on finding a new place to move to. After all, they already have wedding catering gigs booked for 2019 and 2020. “We don’t know where we’re going to be in six months yet,” he says.
BBQ Bus Smokehouse, 5830 Georgia Ave. NW; (202) 288-8700; bbqbusdc.com