Barbecue business headed to Main Street in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 November 2015 at 12:00 am

BAD-AsH-BBQ already has built up a following

Photos by Tom Rivers – Gerald “JJ” Heideman has run BAD-AsH-BBQ from a trailer since the business’s debut on Memorial Day weekend in May 2014. He is working with Adam Johnson to open a BAD Ash restaurant in Albion at the former location of “A Place To Go.”

ALBION – BAD-Ash-BBQ is coming to downtown Albion this spring in a new restaurant after about 18 months on a trailer.

J.J. Heideman, BAD Ash owner, will continue to take the business on the road to parties and community events, but he looks forward to having a permanent location where he can serve barbecue for lunch and dinner.

He is partnering with Adam Johnson in the BAD Ash restaurant on North Main Street. Johnson in January bought two building storefronts, sites that were used as a hair salon and thrift store.

Johnson, a Holley resident, sees a struggling downtown in Albion with several empty buildings. He was looking for a business that would be a draw for the community, bringing customers for the other businesses.

He asked for ideas on Facebook. Heideman read Johnson’s Facebook post, and Heideman was interested. After seeing the space downtown, Heideman was convinced the site would work.

J.J. Heideman, left, and Adam Johnson are renovating the former thrift store space into a restaurant.

Heideman envisions a buffet and a menu that will be expanded from his current offerings of baby back ribs, pulled pork, pulled chicken and brisket.

“I thought Albion needed a restaurant, something different than a diner,” Johnson said. “It has to be something special. That’s what downtown really needs.”

Johnson and Heideman are working together on renovating the space for the restaurant. They are taking out the dropped ceiling, uncovering the floor and finding many positive surprises.

“People are going to see a lot of the old classic architecture that has been hidden,” Johnson said.

He has 25 years in the real estate and construction business. He said renovating the storefront will take hard work, but it isn’t a daunting task.

“Nothing that we’ve seen in here scares me,” he said.

Heideman will continue to run Bad Ash with winter catering and parties. He and Johnson believe the restaurant will be ready in the spring 2016. Heideman will keep the concession trailers going after the restaurant opens. Those trailers will continue to build the BAD Ash name, drawing more people to the Albion location, Heideman said.

He will be in Albion early in the morning to barbecue for lunch and dinner. He said he won’t have to worry about running out of food with the restaurant. And it will be easier for customers in the winter or in bad weather because they can come inside.

Adam Johnson has already repainted one storefront and is looking to draw more people to downtown Albion.

Heideman, 35, recently bought a house in Middleport. He was recognized by the Chamber of Commerce as “New Business of the Year” in 2014.

He is thankful the business has taken off so quickly. He is interested in bringing barbecue competitions to the area as part of the growing appetite for barbecue.

Johnson would also like to have an ice cream shop in a neighboring storefront. He thinks BAD Ash, which will also have breweries and wine on tap, will be a draw, perhaps creating congestion in the downtown, which he said would be a nice problem to have.

“This is going to be a big boost for the downtown,” Johnson said.