Chicago Black-owned restaurant legends

By Caryl Clem:

Hunger unites all ages and cultures allowing color taste buds complete control.  Discovering appealing recipes has successfully propelled many Chicago black owned restaurant establishments. 

The oldest place was founded by the late Harold Pierce in 1950. His daughter recalls her father’s story. When he was a youngster the preacher would come to his home for the Sunday fried chicken dinner. Even if he wanted second helpings, the preacher had the first opportunity to refills that left nothing for him. He would tell himself that someday he would be in charge of his own chicken restaurant eating as much as he desired. Guided by his determination and faith in the family chicken recipe, Harold opened “Harold’s Chicken” on Kimbark in Chicago, another location is currently in Jeffery Manor.

The original menu featured  cooking the entire chicken with a mild sauce side including southern style gizzards and livers. Now chicken wings, catfish, shrimp, fries, fried green tomatoes and their famous mild and hot sauce are menu attractions. Harold’s Chicken is managed by his grandchildren in Atlanta, Georgia and Los Angeles, California plus the Chicago locations. Franchising Harold’s Chicken is possible in the near future as plans are made for Chicago flagship locations according to daughter Kristin Pierce-Sherrod.

For over 65 years, Lem’s Bar- B –Q has served hickory smoked rib tips using their unique seasoning blend and handmade hotlinks. Two brothers, Myles and Bruce Lemons, were passionate to operate their own restaurant. Lem’s Bar-B-Q started in 1954 featuring the special sauce formally trained Chef Myles had created.  Like the Jay’s Chips commercial, one taste was never enough. Expanding their business in 1968 required hiring additional staff,  James Lemons, a talented pit master trained chef.  Family members’ strength has kept their success going.  Sister Lynn Harvey and her sister Carmen Lemons carry on the successful family secrets.

Established favorites include Old Fashioned Donuts in Roseland where Burritt Bullock in his 80’s still  fries up delectable apple fritters that can be topped off with finely chopped peanuts. His own recipe for raised glazed doughnuts remains the menu star.  Having worked for a doughnut business, he later opened his own shop with his wife. Sadly his wife died in 2009. Burritt’s 2 daughters are part of the team. More than doughnuts, grill favorites are served while these young women encourage their father to try new ideas. Another family strong legend, Taurus Flavors. Beginning in 1966, literally taking the success bull by the horns, a humble hoagie sandwich and variety of flavors ice cream shop invented the Supreme Steak Sandwich.  A car wiped out the front of their business in June, 2019. You can order online from the 85th street location.

Black chefs have had a history of providing the best food for centuries, beginning at the White House with Hercules and James Hemings under our founding fathers. Black chef’s knack for creating tasty food is alive and well in Chicago.

Currently, 100 plus Black owned restaurants operate in the Chicago area. Check out at the restaurants in this article published in Infatuation.

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