Jack Jones wasn’t happy. “What a piece of shit,” he said in full view and earshot of a handful of customers. “Look at that.” He was standing over a hotel pan full of baby back ribs that had emerged from the gleaming Ole Hickory smoker in the open kitchen of his new barbecue joint. I couldn’t overhear precisely what went wrong, but Jones, a part owner and onetime chef at Jack’s on Halsted, declared that the offending slabs would have to be trashed. At the very least it demonstrated an awareness that’s it’s easy to make barbecue commercially but difficult to make it well.

That’s been proven over and over in recent years with the rash of barbecue spots, high- and low-end, that have opened across town but have so far failed to meet the high standard set by more tested joints such as Uncle John’s, Honey 1, and Smoque. In scope, Wrigley BBQ is only a bit more ambitious than the last, offering baby backs, chicken, pulled pork, and brisket, sliced or chopped, and the usual sides. It’s counter service, and BYO, and with the exception of a handful of burgers and a couple salads is dominated by the typical barbecue canon—except Jones is working with natural pork and Amish poultry producers.