Backstreets closes its doors for the last time

Backstreets, a popular Blacksburg restaurant established almost 30 years ago, will be closing its doors for the final time this weekend.

Despite Tech’s spring break, the restaurant remained busy this past week as news of the closing drove locals to feast there one last time.

Backstreets sits at the corner of Washington and Main Street downtown — not a “back street” by any means — and the name is actually an ode to its original location when it opened in 1984, behind the building that now houses the popular bar and restaurant Sharkey’s.

Backstreets moved to its present location in 1987 and will be closing its doors this Saturday, March 23.

Eric Sturm, the general manager, has been with Backstreets since then, when it was called “Backstreets on Main.” It was one of three locations for the restaurant at the time.

“Back then, we used to send eight or 10 runs to Lee Hall at one time,” Sturm recalled. “The dining hall food was just not good back then, and we did a lot of deliveries like that on campus. There was no Jimmy John’s, there was no Subway. Everybody went for pizza back then. It was a much different time in Blacksburg.”

Backstreets announced before break that they would be closing their doors on Saturday, creating a run on business over the break that may cause them to close early.

“Over break we were still expecting to be a little slow but it’s been busier than even during the school year. It’s nice, but we haven’t really hired anyone in the past month or so, so we’re feeling a little short,” Sturm said.

The original owner, Steve Andrews, and Strum have contemplated closing Backstreets over the years at various times when things have gotten difficult. For instance, in 2008 the price of the special flour the restaurant uses in their dough more than tripled in price, from $12 to $40. Despite that, the business pulled through — until now.

“Those kinds of things wear you out after a while. We’ve been through a lot and we just felt like right now was the best time to move on to other things,” Strum said. “I think we’ve taken Backstreets as far as we can take it.”

For Strum, the next move will be more about fit than money.

“I’m mostly looking to get some place that I really want to be; it’s not all about money,” Strum said. “I just want to be somewhere that has a little bit of a nice culture that makes a difference in the community.”

Overall, Strum hopes that the legacy of Backstreets was more than just a place to go get pizza.

“With the people I’ve talked to today and the past few days, it’s been a lot of first dates, a lot of ‘we got married after we ate there,’ and that’s what we’d like to be remembered for,” Strum said. “Good people and good memories. It’s definitely been a ride.”

Follow this writer on Twitter @hesonwheels

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