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Rodman’s BBQ prepares for new chapter

After half a century of business at its current location, a Suffolk restaurant is preparing for a new home.

Rodman’s BBQ restaurant served its last full day of normal operations on Feb. 6. In the weeks to come, the team is packing up in the hopes of moving to a new location nearby to continue serving its loyal customers. This move comes as a result of the city taking the property to advance plans to expand Shoulders Hill Road.

It’s not clear yet where the new Rodman’s will be located. If all goes well, the loved barbecue eatery will be up and running again in the next few months.

“There are many irons in the fire right now,” said Barry Saunders. “We hope to stay as close as we can but could go as far out as Churchland. Just seeing where fits our budget and where we can still use our cooker.”

Saunders has worked at Rodman’s since he started as a part-time employee at 15 years old. Out of his 45 years being there, he has been full-time for 35 of them.

Fortunately, the restaurant does not have many full-time employees that would be out of a job. Many of the workers are part-time college students who have classes, and one is moving on to a full-time nursing job.

“We hardly have any full-time employees, and I’m one of the few,” said Saunders. “We mainly work with college students. They’re not affected much by this right now, thank goodness. The other gentleman is part-time and is fine not working every day.”

This move will not be the first in the business’s history. Rodman’s BBQ started at its first location in 1929 on Bridge Road, a site that later became George and Steve’s Steak House and now is the current location of Walgreens. It moved to its location on Shoulders Hill Road, where it has stood since 1970.

At a business meeting around two years ago, Rodman’s BBQ staff found out that the road was getting expanded, but they didn’t know what that would mean for the building. With the arrival of COVID-19 this past year, the business was doing all it could to adapt to the pandemic and start providing a carryout menu.

“We just had to focus on the business and keeping our loyal customers happy,” said Saunders.

For those who want their last fix before their moving hiatus, the restaurant is selling some pounds of barbecue leftovers along with their cold items while supplies last.

“We appreciate the support everyone has given us throughout this process,” said Saunders. “The support has been greater since all of this came about, and we are going with a lot of followers and prayers. We will do all we can to keep the food going.”