Off Duty

Popular American barbecue restaurant near Iwakuni, owned by Marine vet, declared ‘off-limits’

Marines in Japan will have to find a new favorite food joint, as officials at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni have declared Rib House Bar & Grill “off-limits” after its Marine veteran owner was arrested on drug-related offenses.

Phillip Christopher Azevedo, 41, was arrested on “suspicion of marijuana possession” on Dec. 21 by the Fukuoka Prefectural Police, as reported by Stars and Stripes.

The popular American barbecue and “California-style Mexican food” restaurant located near the base was added to a list of off-limits locations “due to illegal drug activity and other related criminal activity,” according to a Facebook post by the base on Jan. 12.

The restaurant joined three other local establishments ― all located in Hiroshima City, Japan ― as prohibited for all base personnel, according to the Facebook post.

Reactions to the announcement in the Facebook post’s comments mostly conveyed a mixture of humor and disappointment.

“Future Marines will never know the glory of the Rib House [shaking my head],” read one comment.

“How [are] you going to ban the only good BBQ place in Iwakuni??” read another.

Azevedo, a Marine Corps veteran, told Stars and Stripes in 2018 that he “always wanted to open a barbecue shack, because food makes people happy.”

The restaurant serves classic barbecue staples like pulled pork, smoked chicken and corn on the cob, as well as Mexican cuisine like enchiladas and tacos, according to its Instagram account.

“Off-limits areas may be established by the MCAS Iwakuni Commanding Officer when there is substantive information that an establishment presents conditions that adversely affect the health, safety, welfare, morale, or morals of SOFA status personnel,” base spokesman Maj. Joshua Diddams said in an email to Stars and Stripes.

All applicable personnel under the status of forces agreement between the United States and Japan ― to include service members and civilian Defense Department personnel ― “will be dealt with under the [Uniform Code of Military Justice] or applicable civilian regulations,” the Facebook post said.

The establishment, usually only open Fridays and Saturdays, appears to have been closed since the owner’s arrest, Stars and Stripes reported.

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