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Freddy’s BBQ Joint from “House of Cards”

Jul 17th, 2017 | By | Category: TV Locations

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I have never been a fan of dark TV shows or movies.  Surprising, I know, considering my love for true crime and all podcasts, documentaries and news stories related to the subject.  But when it comes to fictional TV and movie watching, I prefer a much lighter fare.  One exception to this rule is House of Cards, which the Grim Cheaper and I got really into a couple of summers ago.  The Netflix original series is undeniably dark and exceptionally heavy, but the smart writing, incredible acting, and biting political storylines sucked us right in.  Another draw is the myriad of dynamic characters, my favorite of which [aside from Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) – his Southern drawl is fabulous, and that ring knock!] is easily Freddy Hayes (Reg E. Cathey), proprietor of Freddy’s BBQ Joint, the hole-in-the-wall rib restaurant Frank regularly frequents.  Not only is Freddy’s advice uniquely sage and storytelling top-notch, but his friendship with Frank is just so endearing.  So, last summer, when I found out we were heading to Baltimore, where House of Cards is largely lensed, I told the Grim Cheaper there was no way we were leaving town without stalking Freddy’s – or the storefront used to represent it, I should say.

Though I knew that Freddy’s BBQ Joint was obviously not a real spot, I figured that the production utilized an actual restaurant of some sort to shoot the scenes taking place there.  Sadly, that is not the case.  Freddy’s is a completely fictional eatery created by the House of Cards crew at a vacant space on Greenmount Avenue in Baltimore’s Better Waverly neighborhood – a fact I gleaned from this Mix 106.5 article while preparing for my trip.  Despite my disappointment over learning the news, I was still absolutely thrilled to see the site in person.

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Freddy’s BBQ Joint first popped up in the House of Cards pilot, titled “Chapter 1.”  In the episode, Frank makes an early pit stop at the restaurant and, in one of his superb asides, explains, “My one guilty pleasure is a good rack of ribs, even at 7:30 in the morning.  I have the whole place to myself.  Freddy sometimes opens up just for me.  Where I come from in South Carolina, people didn’t have two pennies to rub together.  A rack of ribs is a luxury, like Christmas in July.”

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Freddy’s goes on to appear regularly on the series, becoming one of its most notable locations.

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Well, throughout the first two years, anyway.  Towards the end of Season 2, in the episode titled “Chapter 22,” Freddy is (spoiler alert!) caught in the middle of Frank’s political schemings and is forced to sell his restaurant.

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In person, the rundown storefront used to portray Freddy’s BBQ Joint looks much the same as it does onscreen.

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The Freddy’s signage is missing, of course, but otherwise the site appears as if it jumped right off of the television screen.

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I absolutely love that the place’s weathered look is authentic and not a design element fabricated by the House of Cards crew.

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I was especially obsessed with the storefront’s tarnished roof eave.

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In the House of Cards pilot, Frank does not venture inside Freddy’s, but instead chooses to eat on the restaurant’s side patio.

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He mainly dines indoors in the episodes that follow, though.

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Mahmut Nazli, owner of the Greenmount Avenue storefront, told the Independent in 2014 that the House of Cards crew re-designed his shop in preparation for filming, installing walls and shelving, which alludes to the fact that the interior was used in the production.  Several other articles I’ve come across, though (like this one and this one), stipulate that the inside of Freddy’s BBQ Joint was a set built at the 300,000-square-foot Joppa, Maryland warehouse-turned-soundstage where the series is lensed.

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Of the crew’s re-design, Nazli went on to say, “They were supposed to change it back, but I asked them not to,” which leads me to wonder if maybe a couple of House of Cards’ early episodes were shot on location inside of the actual Greenmount storefront and then a set modeled after the site’s interior was eventually built at the Joppa warehouse.  I scanned through all of the episodes featuring Freddy’s, though, and never noticed any changes or discernable differences to the interior that would point to a change in filming venues.  So I am unsure on this one.

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Per the Independent article, the Greenmount Avenue space has previously served as a fried chicken restaurant, a book store, and a community center over the years, though Google Street View shows it as being vacant since at least 2007.

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Nazli put the storefront up for sale in 2014 for $119,000, but, despite the locale’s onscreen fame, it does not appear as if there were any takers.

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In this fabulous 2014 TODAY article, Reg. E Cathey talks about House of Cards and the Freddy’s BBQ Joint site, stating, “I’ve shot three projects in that same neighborhood, even that same corner.”  Though he mentions Homicide: Life on the Street, The Corner and The Wire, because I have never seen any of those productions, I am unsure which of the three were lensed in the vicinity of Freddy’s, nor could I find any information online about filming on that same block of Greenmount Avenue, unfortunately.

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For more stalking fun, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Los Angeles magazine and Discover Los Angeles.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The vacant storefront that masks as Freddy’s BBQ Joint on House of Cards is located at 2601 Greenmount Avenue in Baltimore.

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One comment

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  1. Her mom says:

    I miss Freddy’s character. He was a good man in the middle of horrid behavior.


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