- Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 10:53
- Published on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 10:53
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When Westmoreland Shores businessman Bud Tressler opened Fat Freda’s sandwich shop in 2006 at the corner of Hawthorne and Washington streets in Colonial Beach he had a dream of turning it into one of the town’s most popular restaurants.
Tragically, Tressler died in 2009 of a heart attack. But today, his dream is being fulfilled by Colonial Beach Mayor Mike Ham, who is now the co-owner of Fat Freda’s along with Tressler’s widow, Linda.
Ham, who moved to Colonial Beach in 2008 after returning as a civilian employee of the Army Audit Agency, lives just a block from Fat Freda’s and was a regular customer. “I like the place and I wanted to help it,” Ham said.
A CPA who managed annual budgets nearing $100 million while working for the U.S. Army for 28 years, Ham bought a half ownership in the eatery in 2011 and put his talents to work making Bud Tressler’s dream come true.
“The funny thing is, I bought half a sandwich shop and I don’t eat bread,” Ham said. “But it is something I have always wanted to do. I love people and I love food.”
Working with Linda, Ham - who is the managing partner - has overseen an expansion of the restaurant and its menu. A new patio has been added, the kitchen modernized and the menu upgraded. The result has been a restaurant that has a steady flow of customers seven days a week, and is usually packed with crowds on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
“It keeps you busy,” Ham said. “It consumes you and you don’t get a vacation, but I love it.” Ham’s management skills have transformed Fat Freda’s, which is located on the site of a former Amoco gas station, into exactly what Bud Tressler wanted -- one of Colonial Beach’s most popular restaurants.
The Fat Freda menu features a wide range of sandwiches, salads, soups and the restaurant’s special paninis. Also available are hamburgers, crabcakes, jalapeño poppers, wing dings, quesadillas and pizza. “We brag about our crabcakes,” Ham said, “and nobody has challenged us yet.”
The restaurant has added a state-of-the-art Touch Tunes juke box and a large flat screen television. In the fall, Colonial Beach fans of the Washington Redskins cram the place to watch games, eat and drink. And as the weather turns colder, Fat Freda’s will be serving a full menu of the comfort foods mother used to make including meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy and chili.
Next weekend, three Northern Virginia boat clubs will be docking 65 boats and yachts at the Colonial Beach Yacht Club and Ham’s restaurant will get more than its share of business. “These folks used to go to Solomon’s Island or wherever, but now because of the cost of gas they are coming to Colonial Beach to visit and to eat,” said Ham.
Ham, who was elected Mayor of Colonial Beach in 2012, has a simple plan for visitors to his restaurant and visitors to Colonial Beach. “We want people to be comfortable here and we want them to enjoy their visit.” Bud Tressler would be proud.