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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Local joint burns out: Brotha Dudes closes

A shot of the outside of Brotha Dudes The Kick-Back. // Photo by Ian Haupt

By Ian Haupt

If you’ve been hoarding Brotha Dudes 20 percent-off and free Dudes Bowl coupons, you’re out of luck. Brotha Dudes announced on Twitter on Sunday, Oct. 7, all locations are officially closed.

Opened in August 2016 by Julius and Briana Stoker, Brotha Dudes quickly became a beloved staple in the Bellingham restaurant scene. The restaurant offered fresh ingredients and a hippie, cannabis-enthusiast vibe with menu items like the Dudes Blunt and the Cali Spliff.

On the morning of Thursday, Oct. 4, Briana Stoker sent out a mass text to their employees:

“Good morning all, “We have been behind in our sales tax payments and unfortunately the dept. of revenue has frozen our account. What this means is the funds that were set aside for payroll are no longer available. At this time we will be laying everyone off effective immediately. “We will be paying payroll in cash over the next week. We would like to thank everyone for doing a great job and apologize for letting you all down. Julius and Briana”
Text sent by Briana Stoker to the employees of Brotha Dudes. // Photo courtesy of Ian Haupt

The Department of Revenue said they have not revoked Brotha Dudes’ business license. If any action was taken by the department, they said a notice would be placed on the door of the business.

Second-year Western student Leah Skazinski worked at the downtown location of Brotha Dudes for about five months and was laid off shortly before the restaurant closed.

“They definitely had a really good business going,” Skazinski said. “They were making good money, because it was popular, you know? But I just don’t think they had the business aspect of it down.”

Western junior Lia Henriksen mainly worked at Brotha Dudes The Kick-Back over the summer. The Kick-Back was their second location on Northwest Avenue that recently opened up in June 2018. She said they were not prepared to open the new location.

“What I think happened,” Henriksen said, “They just weren’t financially stable enough to open the second one so they had to split their funds.”

Julius Stoker started a crowdsourcing campaign on fundraising website GoFundMe to help raise the money for their employees’ final paychecks. In a video posted on the page, Stoker candidly explained the reasoning behind the closure.

“We fell behind in our taxes because we wanted to make sure our employees were paid every two weeks,” Stoker said in the video. “We wanted to keep the restaurant open so the community had a great place to come for food. But August and September were just really slow, so we got behind.”

However, for those still craving a Brotha Reuben, there may still be hope. Brotha Dudes posted a tweet on Monday, Oct. 8 that read:

 

“The amount of response that we’ve gotten from closing has been tremendous, and people have reached out to try and help us save Brotha Dudes. SO, it appears that maybe all hope isn’t lost for us and we are trying to figure out what we can do to reopen, we will keep you all posted”

 

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