Last October, Denzel Washington searched the south side of Chicago for the ribs that he remembered from his childhood, only to be told that Leon’s, the barbecue restaurant he was looking for, was no longer there. His conversation with 86-year-old Juanita Hubbard, one of the women he met when he stopped to ask for directions, went viral, prompting the owner of Leon’s to announce that he’d be reopening the restaurant’s Woodlawn location.
Leon’s BBQ was started in 1940 by Leon Finney Sr., who paid $700 for a space on East Garfield Boulevard that had formerly been a front for a gambling operation. It eventually expanded to four locations, which closed in 2011. (There are still two restaurant’s called Leon’s that are run by former Leon’s employees.) After seeing the video, Finney’s son, Leon Finney Jr., decided to get back into the restaurant game, announcing that he’d reopen the location at 1528 E. 63rd on November 22. The process took a little longer than expected, but the restaurant finally reopened Thursday. “We’re here to stay now, and invite everyone to come enjoy our food,” Finney Jr. said in a press release.