After almost a year of preparation, a Fat Pete’s Barbecue restaurant hopes to open in College Park, next to the Revo Nails Salon on Route 1, this weekend.
The restaurant is waiting on the county to conduct one last inspection before opening, said Jeff Holibaugh, a majority owner of Fat Pete’s BBQ and a 1988 University of Maryland alumnus.
Holibaugh announced in October 2015 that he would be bringing a “Zamboni-sized, all wood smoker” to the College Park location, according to a Diamondback article. Capital One Bank was previously located at the restaurant’s site, The Diamondback previously reported.
Nearly a year later, community members such as Sean Mussenden, a journalism professor at this university, are anxious to see the restaurant open.
“It’s one of my top-two or top-three barbecue locations in this region,” Mussenden said. “So it’s pretty great to have it in my backyard … actually it’s pretty dangerous for it to be in my backyard.”
The restaurant was slated to open in spring 2016, Holibaugh told The Diamondback in February. However, delays with building permits, construction and electricity set the opening date back, Holibaugh said.
“It’s already taken us twice as long than we expected to open,” he said. “We weren’t even allowed to begin construction until April.”
Despite the wait, Holibaugh said he is excited to bring “something a little different” and “authentic American barbecue” to Route 1.
The College Park location is pretty small, Holibaugh said, so he thinks much of the site’s business will come from takeout, deliveries and catering to various campus organizations and teams.
“I’m excited to be a part of that neighborhood because besides campus, that’s really a growing area of town,” he said. “And by town I mean DMV, like Hyattsville is one of the hottest neighborhoods in the area.”
This development comes as downtown College Park continues its revitalization efforts, said Eric Olson, the executive director of the College Park City-University Partnership. In October 2015, Nando’s Peri-Peri opened on Route 1 at the former site of Ratsie’s Pizza, and Art House, a dining and live performance venue, is scheduled to open at the former site of The Barking Dog sometime next year, he added.
“This is very exciting that they’re opening in downtown College Park … They are very successful in Cleveland Park and I think they’re going to great here,” Olson said. “It’s yet another opening that is showing how College Park is really progressing and becoming a true university community that offers something for everyone.”
Fat Pete’s also has a restaurant located on Connecticut Ave. in Washington near the Cleveland Park area, where Holibaugh said he employs various students from this university.
Holibaugh will also be hiring students and other individuals as delivery drivers and cashiers at the College Park location, he said.
In addition to providing employment opportunities, Olson and Mussenden both said the restaurant will appeal to a broader community, as well as attract people from Washington to come to College Park.
“I just went to the one in Cleveland Park last night and I got my ribs, which is by far my favorite thing there,” Mussenden said. “To me, if it is even close to the Cleveland Park location it is easily one of the best places to eat in College Park hands down.”