CHRISTIANSBURG — Fatback Soul Shack has closed, a decision the restaurant announced Tuesday on Facebook that it attributed to rising costs and the poor economy.
Fatback, located on Roanoke St. in the city. 2440, is one of several restaurants owned by Del. Marie March, R-Floyd.
Marty also owns Due South BBQ, which has restaurants in Christiansburg and Roanoke. The Christiansburg location opened in 2007, while the Roanoke location opened in early 2021.
Fatback, which moved into a former Waffle House building, opened nearly seven years ago in March 2016. In addition to becoming known for home cooking, both Fatback and Due South have served as regular live music venues.
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Fatback grew out of a desire to expand the offerings at Due South in Christiansburg, March said.
When Fatback opened, March said his menu would be a mix of influences that honored the trucking culture of nearby Interstate 81, Appalachian mountain cooking and African-American soul food. One of Fatback’s staples has also been seafood.
Marty did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday about the future of the Fatback and Due South properties.
Meanwhile, at least a few Fatback employees took issue with the restaurant’s drastic decision.
Server Melody Kelly said no one had received any notice of the closure.
“The managers were told that morning. Our schedule is set to Jan. 4,” Kelly wrote in an email Tuesday evening.
Although Kelly wasn’t scheduled to work Tuesday, she said she has items at the restaurants that she’s not sure how she’ll collect. He said the employees were not given the opportunity to relocate to any of the Due South restaurants.
Kelly was one of several people tagged in Sheila Christine’s Facebook post sharing the restaurant’s closing announcement. The post, which ends with #Scrooge, is sharply critical of the restaurant’s performance in March and lack of notice of the closing.
“We all wanted to get our things out before people we didn’t know came and started moving everything. But then again, some people showed up to work this morning to turn around and say they no longer work for the company, so I guess executives just weren’t in the cards,” said the post, which also addressed the concerns. of workers who relied on the restaurant as their main or only source of income.
Kelly was one of those people whose work at the restaurant served as another source of income.
“I loved the people I worked with because we were like family and my manager was great at scheduling me around my availability and my loyal and amazing clients,” Kelly wrote. “In terms of income, even though it was my second job, it was my main source of income because I was working there more part-time than full-time.”
About a week ago, another Fatback Facebook post announced that they planned to close on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Monday to give their employees a “much-needed time off to celebrate with their families.” The same post announced plans to reopen the restaurant at 11 a.m. Tuesday
“Thank you for your understanding and we hope to see you before the New Year,” the note reads.
Although she’s been a businesswoman for more than a decade, most of Marti’s public image over the past few years has been about her politics.
In the mid-2010s, March began to take a greater interest in politics, particularly in the Christiansburg and Montgomery County scenes.
Among other issues, Mars was an outspoken critic of Christiansburg’s revised noise ordinance in 2018. Around the time Fatback introduced its outdoor stage in 2017, it received some criticism for its live music.
After debating noise legislation, Mart vowed to shake up the Christiansburg City Council in future elections. In 2019, she endorsed incumbent Councilwoman Johanna Hicks, who won her seat after finishing first in the voting that year. In 2021, Hicks ran unsuccessfully for mayor, losing to longtime incumbent Mike Barber.
Mars was elected to public office in his first-ever bid in 2021 after comfortably winning the GOP primary earlier that year and in the November general election.
Now, March will face Patrick County’s Del. Wren Williams next year in the county primary. The two Republicans are running against each other in the redrawn and renumbered 47th House District.
The winner of next year’s primary will go on to win the Nov. 7 general election, as the newly drawn district has long leaned Republican.
Although the primary is still months away, the race is already hotly contested.
Earlier this fall, during a Republican celebration in Whiteville, March filed a criminal assault and battery charge against Williams, alleging that he pushed her. Williams denied the allegations, and the two elected officials released video in the days following the event to try to defend their cases.
A hearing in the case was scheduled for earlier this month in White County District Court, but it was moved to January 4.
In a separate case, Marth became embroiled in a land-use dispute with Pulaski County officials over ownership of the Big Red Barn at 4241 Lee Highway.
Pulaski County officials said through interviews and a series of public records that the property did not meet a number of zoning requirements, including a permit. Although they have repeatedly stated that they have tried to resolve the issues with March, the delegate described the problem with the Big Red Barn as nothing more than an effort by Pulaski County officials to intimidate him.
March also claimed that his troubles in Pulaski County were based on efforts by establishment Republicans to prevent him from gaining influence and control in the area.
Marty put the Big Red Barn up for sale in the fall, but Long & Foster Real Estate’s previous listing for the property is no longer available.