Mama’s BBQ, Blues & Pizza Relocates

Relocating down the street, Mama’s BBQ, Blues & Pizza opened in September at 2028 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE. 

Melvin Holloway, a long-time resident of Anacostia, stands on the corner of the triangle lot at the junction of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, Pleasant Street and Maple View Place and points to a sign. “See; March 27, 1961,” Holloway says singling out a date on the side of the neon sign’s shell, “that’s about when the Mile Long opened. It closed, probably, in the late ‘70’s but their memory is still strong.”

 

According to Holloway, Mile Long, “was the spot to come to at night, the spot to come to when it opened up early in the morning, and anytime in between. You could smell the fried onions they’d put on the steak sandwiches blocks away.”

 

The reverence that still exists in the hearts and stomachs of long-time Anacostians for the Mile Long, decades after its closing, may be replaced soon by Mama’s BBQ, Blues & Pizza, which opened in early 2012 as Mama’s Kitchen at 1208 Maple View Place, the former spot of the Mile Long. It has recently re-located to 2028 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, in the former location of the Fireside Restaurant.

 

On a recent Saturday afternoon the interior of Mama’s was populated by the local postman, neighborhood children, and a group of young men watching a college football game on one of the two flat screen televisions. With a slightly larger seating area than the previous location, there are two booths lining each wall with a total of eight tables and eight chairs.

 

While speaking with co-owner Musa Ulusan, 49, who runs the restaurant with his wife, many people in the neighborhood referred to him as “Pops” and “Papa” and patted him on the back in a show of respect. “We are part of the community,” Ulusan said. “My wife and I share some of the same problems and have been through hard times. We are sensitive to the community and thankful for their support.”

 

In 1992 Ulusan founded The Original Italian Pie in New Orleans. Within a decade Ulusan had a dozen restaurants in New Orleans and franchisees throughout the South from Tallahassee, Florida to Jackson, Mississippi. “At one time I had 2,000 employees,” Ulusan says, “then Hurricane Katrina hit and we were wiped out” After a couple of unsuccessful real estate investments, Ulusan moved to the Washington area looking to make a fresh start.

 

“I was looking everywhere in DC for where would be a good location to open,” Ulusan says. “Anacostia seemed like a good place, because I knew what the future was going to be and the budget was right.” In their previous location Ulusan says he was on a month-to-month lease; in their current location at the corner of MLK Jr. Avenue and V Street, Mama’s has signed a ten-year lease which will help establish the brand in the neighborhood for the foreseeable future.

 

While single slices of cheese pizza are the preferred choice of Andre Williams, 20, a music producer and loyal customer of Mama’s since their opening on Maple View Place, the menu consists of sub sandwiches, salads, lasagna, ribs, speciality pizzas, plates served with a roll, coleslaw and baked beans, and “heavenly cakes” of lemon, strawberry and red velvet.

 

“If it’s not a carry-out or Chinese Food, these places are few and far between this side of town,” says Duane Sneed, 29, who patronizes Mama’s twice a week while visiting family in the neighborhood.

 

With a growing number of positive reviews of Mama’s on Internet-based food websites and word of mouth continuing to spread east of the river, Ulusan hopes he may be able to start a chain of Mama’s. Decades from now, residents of Anacostia could be reminiscing about the early days of Mama’s in the same way the Mile Long is still remembered.

 

In other local eatery news, after years of management turnover and questionable service the Big Chair Cafe Bar & Grill has closed. Meanwhile, as previously reported in East of the River, Uniontown Bar & Grill has re-opened under new ownership.

 

Mama’s BBQ, Blues & Pizza is open 7 days a week, 11am - 11pm, and delivers. Phone: (202)