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Detroit Barbecue Restaurant Owner Says He's Being Unfairly Ticketed for Blight

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Vicki's Bar-B-Q received hundreds of dollars in citations for a building it doesn't even own

Vicki's Bar-B-Q.
Vicki's Bar-B-Q.
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

A Detroit barbecue restaurant owner says he's being unfairly ticketed by the city for a building he doesn't even own. Vicki's Bar-B-Q, a takeout institution on Detroit's west side, has survived on its block for decades despite the declining conditions of the surrounding buildings.

Owner Dennis Butler tells WJBK he tried unsuccessfully to get the city to tear down a blighted building next door for nearly 10 years. "They have done nothing but indicate it was on the destruction list and we just sit and wait," he says. Now, Butler is fed up. Last Friday, the restaurant owner claims he received three tickets from the city's Building and Safety Department citing him for illegal signage and the dilapidated building next door.

Butler, who was interviewed in front of the crumbling building during the Detroit episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, says he's confused as to how he could be ticketed for a structure that doesn't belong to him. "I was mad as hell," he tells the WJBK. "Unless somebody can't read numbers, how can you take this number and put it over there." Adding to the head scratching situation, the city returned to the site on Wednesday and painted over a portion of the eyesore.

The City of Detroit's blight removal program has largely been paid for with federal funds. The price for blight removal have increased over several successive city leaders with the average cost jumping from around $8,500 per building to in some cases $16,400 under Mayor Mike Duggan's administration. The program is currently under investigation by several agencies including the FBI.

Watch the full report below:

Vicki's Barbeque

3845 W Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48208 (313) 894-9906