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Customers Turn Up Heat On Sacramento County To Save Beloved BBQ Spot

RIO LINDA (CBS13) — It's a BBQ shop beef with Sacramento County.

After first being denied his business license renewal, the Hickory Hank's BBQ owner is now thanking the community for helping come to his side. And the Board of Supervisors is now set to vote on a recommendation by the Planning Commision on an agreement that would allow the business to stay open.

Owner Hank Virga's decades of customer service is paying off like he never would have expected.

"The community support has been astronomical," Virga said. "It feels great that I have so much support from all these great people."

CBS13 first reported Sacramento County was close to closing him down last year.

"They recommended a denial, then they pulled my business license," Virga said in 2021.

The county denied his business license renewal, sending a letter explaining the original license for the business was erroneously approved.

A spokesperson for Sacramento County released a statement reading in part:

"…restaurants are not allowed in agricultural-residential zones. We are workin with Mr. Virga's representative on options so that he can make an informed decision on how to proceed…"

"Oh, I was devastated," Virga said.

After the report, Hickory Hanks's loyal customers turned up the heat, sending county planning commissioners dozens of letters pleading to allow him to stay open.

Some said:

"Please do not shut down this place."

"Hickory Hank's has been around since 1981!"

"We are hoping and praying for their business to stay open."

"Rio Linda, you know everybody looks kind of sideways to Rio Linda, but this is the best community I think you could ever see," Virga said.

The planning commissioners listened, and after a year-long battle, and a $50,000 fee, they approved a recommendation to allow Virga to stay open with re-zoned land.

The new Hickory Hank's agreement goes before the Board of Supervisors next month.

"It's fantastic that so many people are behind me, and that's what's kept me going," Virga said.

March 8 is the final vote. If all goes well for Hickory Hanks, he says he is going to throw a feast for his customers free of charge.

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