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