Is Blue Willy’s Bar­be­cue on the move af­ter law­suit filed?

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Local - By Michael Mayo Staff writer

The phone is dis­con­nected, a trailer out back is gone and a “closed for sum­mer break” sign on the door reads, “See you in Au­gust” as September ap­proaches. Does this mean the end is near for lo­cal fa­vorite Blue Willy’s Bar­be­cue and its Thurs­day-only pas­trami?

“Mov­ing won’t be open for a lit­tle while,” pro­pri­etor Will Banks wrote two weeks ago in a Yelp post­ing.

The fu­ture of the eatery, at 1190 E. Blvd., in Oak­land Park, is un­cer­tain af­ter a law­suit filed Aug. 10 by its land­lord claim­ing breach of con­tract and un­paid in­sur­ance, util­i­ties and prop­erty taxes.

Banks has been the res­tau­rant’s pub­lic face since he started Blue Willy’s as a food truck ear­lier this decade near the Broward County court­house, but Steven Hy­man, of Fort Laud­erdale, is listed as the res­tau­rant’s owner in the law­suit and in state cor­po­rate records. Hy­man could not be reached for com­ment Fri­day, de­spite a text sent to his cel­lu­lar phone.

Blue Willy’s achieved cult­like sta­tus with some loy­al­ists for its once-a-week smoked pas­trami, of­fered only on Thurs­days, and the res­tau­rant was praised by former Sun Sentinel din­ing critic John Tanasy­chuk soon af­ter it went from food truck to brick-and-mor­tar res­tau­rant in Pom­pano Beach in fall 2013.

The res­tau­rant moved from that cramped store­front in Pom­pano Beach to big­ger digs on East Com­mer­cial Boule­vard and Dixie High Com­mer­cial way in June 2016. Some pa­trons said that the food slipped af­ter the move to the new site, a former Burger King and Latin chicken res­tau­rant.

Blue Willy’s was or­dered tem­po­rar­ily shut in Au­gust 2017 by state health in­spec­tors for nu­mer­ous in­frac­tions, in­clud­ing “ro­dent drop­pings” and “live fly­ing in­sects” and “po­ten­tially haz­ardous food” due to “tem­per­a­ture abuse” and “im­proper cool­ing” of cooked meats. The in­spec­tion that prompted the shut­down was trig­gered by an ex­ter­nal com­plaint. The res­tau­rant has passed its last five in­spec­tions, two trig­gered by com­plaints.

The law­suit filed by land­lord Sunny An­gel LLC al­leges that Blue Willy’s and Hy­man have not paid nearly $50,000 in util­i­ties, in­sur­ance, prop­erty tax and late fees as re­quired by a 2016 lease that was amended in September 2017. The law­suit al­leges that Hy­man acted as guar­an­tor for all pay­ments and also owes money for rent. Blue Willy’s and Hy­man have not yet filed a for­mal re­sponse to the civil com­plaint.

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