Leon's Barbecue and Grill returns to the South Side

Friday, March 09, 2018 02:00PM
Leon's Barbecue and Grill returned to Chicago's South Side Thursday.


CHICAGO - The legendary Leon's Barbeque and Grill is returning to the South Side - and people lined up along 63rd Street all day Thursday waiting for its official opening.

Actor Denzel Washington is credited with encouraging the family behind Leon's to bring it back, and residents were excited to see that idea come to fruition.

"I'm hungry, I'm definitely hungry," said Pierre Adams. "I'm so hungry I can barely speak."

Thursday's grand opening special was three rib tips, two wings and one hot link in special sauce for $5.

Owner Reverend Leon Finney made a batch of the special sauce himself.

"That is the special sauce that I made at 8:00 this morning," Finney said.

Finney's father opened the first restaurant in 1942 when Finney was 2 years old. The business grew to four locations before it closed several years ago when Finney decided to focus on his ministry at Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church.

"I wish my Dad was here to see this," Finney said. "He loved the barbecue business."

In 2017, Washington went looking for Leon's, and asked several residents about it. With the Obama Presidential Center to open in nearby Jackson Park, Finney responded to Washington's inquiry.

"We knew that we were coming back here and open, but then Denzel Washington comes into town in the fall of 2017 and says 'Where's Leon's?'" Finney said. "So we had to accelerate our opening."
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