Wade BBQ to close temporarily; chef hopes to find new location

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Food News

Chef David Wade of the popular takeout Wade BBQ said his lease will end in April after months of ventilation issues and neighboring tenants complaining about the barbecue smoke.

Wade BBQ is closing — temporarily, its chef hopes — due to the lease being terminated. Courtesy Wade BBQ

Wade BBQ, a Union Square newcomer that quickly became a takeout favorite around Greater Boston for its big menu of smoked meats and sides, is closing — at least temporarily, its chef hopes.

David Wade, a Dorchester native who opened Wade BBQ about six months ago, said he received notice from his landlord March 28 that his lease would be up at 5 Sanborn Court in Somerville at the end of April.

In order to move out his equipment and clean up before that end date, Wade said his last day of serving what he called “Boston barbecue” will be when he runs out of inventory, likely the end of this week.

David Wade is the chef and owner of takeout operation Wade BBQ located in Union Square Courtesy David Wade

“Unfortunately I’m a very, very small business, and this stop at quite literally the very beginning of my busy season is going to be very impactful negatively for my business, as well as the 13 employees that are going to be out of work until I find a new location,” Wade said. 

The unexpected closure stems from a longstanding issue he’s had with his ventilation system and the smoke that impacted other tenants. 

The smoke from cooking meat was leaking into another neighboring business a few months ago, and that business complained to the landlord. The solution Wade came up with was to smoke the meats outside. He also began working with an engineer and technician to get ventilation equipment for a barbecue smoker — hard to come by in New England with its few BBQ joints, so Wade had to take notes from restaurants and pitmasters down South. 

“If anything, (smoking outside) benefited my business,” Wade said. “The smell of barbecue drags people by the nose, and I was enjoying a good amount of increased business. But the thing about being outside is that the wind blows in different directions at any moment.”

That’s when another complaint — from a different business than the first complaint — was lodged against Wade’s takeout operation to his landlord and the property owners, and this time, that came with a decision to discontinue his lease. 

The building is owned by EJH Realty LLC, according to the state’s online property map, and the Sanborn Court alley includes several popular restaurants, bars, and an event space. 

Wade had no interest in disparaging his neighboring businesses and wouldn’t say which business complained. Although frustrated, he understood that they had to do what was best for their business. 

“Though my business is wounded by this, I wish not any other business be wounded in the process,” Wade said. “What [makes Union Square] special is our sense of community with each other.”

And generally, he’s felt supported by the Union Square neighborhood’s small businesses and residents. Top that off with plenty of positive press in the six months he’s been serving barbecue, Wade said running his restaurant has been a “dream come true.” 

As for next steps, he’d love to find a new home for Wade BBQ, preferably in or near Union Square, and is currently looking for leads. 

“Hopefully in the near future, I’ll be able to plant my roots [in Union Square] and still continue to bring good barbecue to the neighborhood.”

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