Ruthie’s Bar-B-Q & Pizza (TALIA WIENER/STAFF)
Ruthie’s Bar-B-Q & Pizza (TALIA WIENER/STAFF)
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This Saturday, Aug. 27, from 6 to 8 p.m, Ruthie’s Bar-B-Q & Pizza will be hosting a second benefit concert featuring the local Cajun country collision band Big Mamou.  

After an early morning kitchen fire in late July shut the restaurant down, Ruthie’s Bar-B-Q & Pizza has been working with the township and two insurance companies toward a reopening. However, permits are holding the eatery back, co-owner Ruth Perretti said. 

“Once you've had a fire in a restaurant, you have to go through a really strict process to be able to reopen again,” Perretti said. “The permitting process can take an extremely long time here. My hope was that it would move through a little quicker, but I'm still waiting.” 

Two township council members, Peter Yacobellis and Robin Schlager, have been checking in with Ruthie’s to try to help push the permitting process along, Perretti said. The process involves multiple steps and approvals of the safety and functionality of the building before reopening. 

“My understanding is that everything is to code,” Perretti said. “We have everything. We should be ready to go. It's just a matter of getting that stamp. One person looks at it for the fire, one person looks at it for the building, one person looks at it for the electric. … So it's just kind of a bureaucratic process.”

For about 15 years, Ruthie’s Bar-B-Q & Pizza has been a community gathering place for Montclairians. With the opening process taking longer than expected, and the summer season coming to an end, Perretti and her partner/chef, Eric Kaplan, have missed out on hosting a number of outdoor events.  

This loss is something the community has noticed, and has taken action to remedy. 

Earlier this month, customers of Ruthie’s, and members of the band Waterbury Road,  approached the restaurant and expressed interest in holding a fundraiser concert to “help bring back Ruthie’s.” On Aug. 13, while still technically closed awaiting permits, the outdoor atmosphere of the restaurant was brought to life again with live music and community connections.

“That was a really special evening, because so many people showed up,” Perretti said. “They just brought their own food and drinks, and it just felt like people wanted to get together and experience the community that Ruthie’s provides. It hit me in a stronger way at that benefit, like, we really do hold this place that people cherish to come together.” 

Big Mamou to perform at Ruthie's Saturday, Aug. 27 (COURTESY OF RUTH PERRETTI)
Big Mamou to perform at Ruthie's Saturday, Aug. 27
(COURTESY OF RUTH PERRETTI)
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This Saturday, the band Big Mamou had been scheduled to play at Ruthie’s, where it has performed in the past. With the restaurant being closed, Perretti assumed the show would not go on. That was until the friends of the restaurant and local musicians reached out, and just like Waterbury Road, the band asked to perform a benefit concert. 

“We were just planning that we weren't going to have anything going on, but they reached out to us and said, ‘We're so sorry, you're closed’ and ‘We would like to play anyway and use this opportunity to help you guys out and raise some money for you,’” Perretti said. “I just thought that was very nice.” 

As a well-known and well-established group in the Montclair area, Big Mamou typically brings a large crowd when they perform. Although permits are still in progress, Perretti hopes that this Saturday, the community will come out and enjoy socializing together while the weather’s still nice. 

“I'm looking forward to seeing my friends and the wonderful music of Big Mamou, they're fantastic, and to just feel the neighborhood come alive again,” Perretti said.

Ruthie’s Bar-B-Q & Pizza will have open tip jars at Saturday’s event, as well as Venmo, for community members to donate what they are able. Residents can also purchase gift certificates to the restaurant by emailing the Ruthie’s at welcome@ruthiesbbq.com