MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) - Those craving smokey goodness got quite the surprise when they showed up to Thomas Pit Bar-B-Q in Madison Friday. The restaurant has closed.
It's not often you see the parking lot at Thomas Pit empty. As a matter of fact, the lunch rush usually causes a mini traffic jam on Highway 72. But when customers pulled up Friday they quickly learned there was no pork, beef or chicken to be had.
A sign on the door reads 'Closed until further notice,' citing new ownership. It was obvious employees were in a bit of a stupor. They told us off camera they were instructed to close the restaurant at 4p.m. Thursday. They say Thomas Pit has been bought by Rick's BBQ.
Rick's has locations in Muscle Shoals, Florence and throughout southern Tennessee. With employees packing up supplies, moving furniture and even wiping away tears, we were still unable to get answers as to when the decades old business will reopen as Rick's. We were told by employees they had heard the building would be razed and that construction on a new restaurant would take 8 to 10 months.
Employee Rita Larman, who has worked at the restaurant since 1977, told us former owner Glen Garcia Friday told employees, "start applying for unemployment."
Larman says employees found out weeks ago the restaurant would be bought by Rick's but found out only 3 days ago the sale would mean demolition of the building and the end of Thomas Pit.
WHNT News 19 attempted to contact management from Rick's BBQ but have not heard back yet. We will give you an update when we track down more information about the closure.