News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

53rd Street’s BBQ Supply Co. to open Friday, October 13

Beating the initial projected November 1 opening date by more than two weeks, the second Chicago location of Jared Leonard’s BBQ Supply Co. will open in Hyde Park this Friday, October 13 at 12 p.m.

Occupying the previous Yusho location at 1301 E. 53rd Street, Leonard has kept the basic layout of the space while turning it into a classic American barbecue supper club with rich natural colors, exposed wood, and dark leather bar stools. His goal is for diners to have an elevated dining experience while eating comfort food.

The original BBQ Supply Co. opened in Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood more than seven years ago, and the Hyde Park location will introduce South Side barbecue fans to Leonard’s Texas style BBQ, with slow-smoked brisket, pulled pork, spare ribs, and sausage, accompanied by sides such as truffle mac and cheese, cornbread, beans, cole slaw, deviled egg potato salad, and house-made pickles. The restaurant’s drink menu includes 16 different whiskeys and bourbons, craft beer, and two signature house cocktails. Desserts include peach cobbler, apple crisp, and house-made soft serve ice cream in rotating seasonal flavors – with “boozy” bourbon vanilla milkshakes ready for next summer.

The restaurant seats 45 people indoors, with outdoor patio dining for 20 people, weather permitting. Next year, BBQ Supply Co. will increase the size of the outdoor patio dining space with tables on Kimbark Avenue. Twenty employees, most from the immediate neighborhood, have been hired to staff the restaurant.

During the renovation of the space, Leonard, a resident of Lincoln Square, ejoyed getting to know Hyde Park better. He and his family stayed for a full weekend in September, visiting Promontory Point, the Original Pancake House on 47th Street, and A10 Hyde Park for dinner. He’s considering other projects in the area and is even looking at houses.

“There’s been a strong neighborhood response with people excited to have barbecue back in Hyde Park,” Leonard commented. “The University of Chicago’s Commercial Real Estate Operations group has been very supportive with resources and information, and we’re just excited to light the smoker and open the doors.”

BBQ Supply Co. will be open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, and Leonard plans to add a weekend brunch in early 2018. The restaurant will be available for private events, with a full catering menu. Hours are 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The restaurant will be closed on Mondays.

BBQ Supply Co. Logo
BBQ Supply Co. Logo

Duke Otherwise, final kids’ musician scheduled for the Downtown Hyde Park Farmers Market 2017 season, to play Thursday, Oct. 5

As the 2017 Downtown Hyde Park Farmers Market begins its last full month, parents have one final opportunity to bring kids out to enjoy a children’s musician performance this season.

Duke Otherwise, a Madison, Wisconsin-based musician, is scheduled to perform at Harper Court on Thursday, October 5 from 9:45 – 11:15 a.m. Otherwise plays nearly 150 shows a year throughout the Midwest and beyond. According to his website, his “energetic live show is filled with improvisation, audience participation, dancing, and outrageous fun!”

His two CDs, “Beehives & Bedheads” (2015) and “Creepy Crawly Love” (2012), will be available for purchase. He will perform his recent single, “Brussels Sprout Shout.”

Other musicians performing on October 5 will include Aaron Smith on banjo from 8-9:30 a.m. and Phil Passen on dulcimer from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Robert Burford, the local "Bubble Man" will be spreading joy (and bubbles!) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The weekly Downtown Hyde Park Farmers Market, held at Harper Court in Hyde Park, will be open from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Thursdays until it ends on October 26.

Duke Otherwise - photo courtesy of Michaela von Seydlitz Photography
Duke Otherwise - photo courtesy of Michaela von Seydlitz Photography
Concert Graphic
Concert Graphic

Hyde Park’s October 5th “First Thursday” event includes 56 local businesses

This week’s “First Thursday” event includes a record number of Hyde Park businesses, with 56 local restaurants, shops, health and beauty establishments, and entertainment venues participating on October 5. “First Thursday” takes place on 53rd, 55th, and 57th Streets (and some surrounding streets) from 5-8 p.m.

Seven newly opened, reopened, or relocated businesses taking part in the event for the first time include Aloha Poke Co., B’Gabs Goodies, ETO’O Modern Asian Cuisine, Litehouse Whole Food Grill, Nella Pizza e Pasta, Orangetheory Fitness, and the Threading & Waxing Salon.

Event goers will find a range of offerings, including free samples (McDonald’s and Native Foods), BOGO offers (Leona’s, Mellow Yellow, and Nando’s PERi-PERi), free weeks of fitness memberships (Core Power Yoga and LA Fitness), beer or wine tastings (Kimbark Beverage Shoppe and 57th Street Wines), gifts or free food items with purchase (Café 53, Dearborn Denim & Apparel, Insomnia Cookies, Nella Pizza e Pasta, NoteworthyNotes, Powell’s Books, Target Express, Whole Foods Market), discounts ranging from 10 percent to 50 percent at 30 or more businesses, and $5 movie tickets at the Harper Theater.

Some businesses will offer specials all day or until their closing times.  For a full list of participating businesses and details visit

The November 2 “First Thursday” event will be the last one in the 2017 season, which runs from May to November. Organized by the University of Chicago Real Estate Operations group in cooperation with Downtown Hyde Park, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, and the South East Chicago Commission, “First Thursday” is a community event designed to bring shoppers and diners to Hyde Park to discover new and existing businesses, enjoy a variety of specials and deals, and have fun exploring the neighborhood with their friends and families.

Participating businesses and offer types include:


Dining Offers

53rd Street Area

McDonalds – 5200 S. Lake Park Avenue

A10 Hyde Park – 1462 E. 53rd Street

Aloha Poke Co. – 5221 S. Harper Court

Ancien Cycles & Café (also see Shopping) – 1558 E. 53rd Street

Bonne Sante Health Foods (also see Shopping) – 1512 E. 53rd Street

Café 53 – 1369 E. 53rd Street

ET’O Modern Asian Cuisine – 1373 E. 53rd Street

Fabiana’s Bakery – 1658 E. 53rd Street

Kilwins – 5226 S. Harper Avenue

Leona’s – 1236 E. 53rd Street

Mellow Yellow – 1508 E. 53rd Street

Mikkey’s Retro Grill – 5319 S. Hyde Park Boulevard

Nando’s PERi-PERi – 1447 E. 53rd Street

Native Foods – 1518 E. Harper Court

Pockets – 1307 E. 53rd Street

Porkchop (also see Drinking) – 1516 E. Harper Court

Rajun Cajun – 1459 E. 53rd Street

Roti Modern Mediterranean – 1526 E. 53rd Street

The Sit Down Café & Sushi Bar – 1312 E. 53rd Street

Target Express – 1346 E. 53rd Street

55th Street Area

Bergstein’s NY Deli – 1164 E. 55th Street

Insomnia Cookies – 1105 E. 55th Street

Litehouse Whole Food Grill – 1660 E. 55th Street

Nella Pizza e Pasta – 1125 E. 55th Street

57th Street Area

B’ Gabs Goodies – 1450 E. 57th Street

Cemitas Puebla – 1321 E. 57th Street

Noodles, Etc. – 1333 E. 57th Street


Shopping Offers

53rd Street Area

Whole Foods Market – 5118 S. Lake Park Avenue

Akira – 1539 E. 53rd Street

Ancien Cycles & Café (also see Dining) – 1558 E. 53rd Street

Bonne Sante Health Foods (also see Dining) – 1512 E. 53rd Street

Dearborn Denim & Apparel – 1504 E. 53rd Street

Hyde Park Produce Market – 1226 E. 53rd Street

Hyde Park Records – 1377 E. 53rd Street

Jojayden – 1457 E. 53rd Street

Kilimanjaro International – 1305 E. 53rd Street

Modern Cooperative – 1500 E. 53rd Street

NoteworthyNotes – 5231 S. Harper Court

Pearle Vision – 1200 E. 53rd Street

The Silver Room – 1506 E. 53rd Street

The Silver Umbrella – 5305 S. Hyde Park Boulevard

Sir & Madame – 5225 S. Harper Court

Sprocket & Stone – 1013 E. 53rd Street

55th Street Area

First Aid Comics – 1617 E. 55th Street

Gilda’s Designer Thrift Boutique – 1703 E. 55th Street

57th Street Area

57th Street Books – 1301 E. 57th Street

Powell’s Books – 1501 E. 57th Street


Drinking Offers

53rd Street Area

Chant – 1509 E. 53rd Street

Ja’ Grill – 1510 E. 53rd Street

Kimbark Beverage Shoppe – 1214 E. 53rd Street

Porkchop (also see Dining) – 1516 E. Harper Court

The Promontory – 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue

55th Street Area

Seven Ten Lanes – 1055 E. 55th Street

57th Street Area

57th Street Wines – 1448 E. 57th Street


Fitness/Beauty Offers

53rd Street Area

Core Power Yoga – 1539 E. 53rd Street, 2nd Floor

LA Fitness – 5224 S. Lake Park Avenue

Orangetheory Fitness – 1503 E. Hyde Park Boulevard

Threading & Waxing Salon – 1648 E. 53rd Street


Entertainment Offers

53rd Street Area

Harper Theater – 5238 S. Harper Avenue

First Thursday Graphic
First Thursday Graphic

Aloha Poké Co. to open new location in Harper Court on Monday, October 2

Aloha Poké Co. will open its new Hyde Park location at 5221 S. Harper Court on Monday, October 2.

Recently named “best poké” and “best gluten-free restaurant” in the Chicago Reader’s “Best of Chicago” list, Aloha Poké serves fresh, healthy, build-your-own poké bowls. Guests first choose a base of rice or mixed greens, then select from sashimi-grade tuna, salmon, or tofu – all of which can be served marinated or “naked” – and then pack on toppings like edamame, pineapple, avocado, and more, and finish with a drizzle of sauce. Customers who prefer to leave the choices to the experts can instead order from three House Bowls.

Aloha Poké also offers catering options, such as the “Sumo Bowls,” which serve 8-10 people.

The restaurant joined several other retailers for the Hyde Park Hiring Fair at Harper Court on August 1. General Manager Brett Kane said he received resumes from 60 candidates for 10 open positions, ultimately hiring two people from the event.

“It was a great way to meet people in the community and get to know the other businesses in Harper Court,” Kane noted.

With five current locations in Chicago including the West Loop French Market, Revival Food Hall, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and Evanston, the restaurant chain is also expanding into Loyola/Rogers Park, the Magnificent Mile, Old Town, and Naperville, as well as a national expansion in Arizona; California; Colorado; Florida; Minnesota; Washington, D.C.; and Wisconsin.

“Aloha Poké Co.’s healthy poké bowls are incredibly popular and a proven success in the fast-casual dining segment,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University. “We look forward to welcoming them to Harper Court."

The Harper Court location hours are anticipated to be Monday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Aloha Poké Co. logo
Aloha Poké Co. logo
Aloha Poké Co. bowl - photo courtesy of Aloha Poké Co.
Aloha Poké Co. bowl - photo courtesy of Aloha Poké Co.

Polsky Center Fab Lab to participate in September “First Thursday” event with 3D printer demos

53rd Street’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fab Lab will participate in the upcoming September 7 “First Thursday” community event, with free 3D printer demonstrations from 5 – 8 p.m.

The Fab Lab will staff a pop-up location at The Silver Room, at 1506 E. 53rd Street, and will offer participants the opportunity to make a free light-up card using circuit stickers. Experience with 3D printing is not necessary.

“We enjoyed meeting our neighbors and demonstrating 3D printing during the July event,” said Elizabeth Koprucki, Assistant Director of the Fab Lab. “We are looking forward to more 3D printer demos and a make-and-take light-up card activity in September.”

The University of Chicago’s Polsky Center promotes the creation of new ventures and commercial partnerships. The Fab Lab is part of the center’s Polsky Exchange, a hub on 53rd Street that provides a range of resources to entrepreneurs from the University of Chicago and the surrounding community.

In addition to hosting the Polsky Center pop-up event table, The Silver Room will offer 15 percent off all purchases when you mention “First Thursday.”

The First Thursday event brings together 40+ local shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues on 53rd, 55th, 57th, and the surrounding streets – all offering discounts, deals, and special giveaways for shoppers.

For more information on the event and a full list of participating businesses and offers, visit

First Thursday graphic
First Thursday graphic

BBQ Supply Co. restaurant opening on 53rd Street November 1

Jared Leonard’s BBQ Supply Co. restaurant will be opening in the former Yusho location at 1301 E. 53rd Street on November 1, 2017.

Leonard and his wife Amanda opened their original restaurant in Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood over seven years ago, as a way for him to express his passion for hardwood smoked BBQ. The concept has expanded to include a retail space selling sauces and rubs and the city’s only dedicated BBQ school, with more than 5,000 past attendees.

The move to Hyde Park will give diners a taste of Leonard’s favorite Texas style BBQ, with slow-smoked brisket, pulled pork, spare ribs, and sausage cooked in 8,000-lb Texas smokers over a hardwood fire. The wood is so essential to the experience that Leonard brings in truckloads of quarter-split post oak logs from central Texas to provide the quintessential flavor.

BBQ Supply Co.’s menu will also feature comfort-food sides including truffle mac and cheese, custard-filled cornbread, pit beans, Texas caviar (black-eyed peas in a vinaigrette dressing often served as a dip), house-made pickles, coleslaw, and deviled egg potato salad. Desserts include banana pudding, a skillet cookie, Texas sheet cake, apple crisp, and peach cobbler.

“After opening on the far north side in 2010, we’re excited to expand to the south side in Hyde Park, and look forward to sharing our love for BBQ with the community,” commented Leonard.

“53rd Street has become a true dining destination,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University. “BBQ Supply Co. will add another great option for barbecue fans to enjoy and we’re happy to welcome them to the neighborhood."

BBQ Supply Co. food from a recent Zagat photo shoot - image courtesy of BBQ Supp
BBQ Supply Co. food from a recent Zagat photo shoot - image courtesy of BBQ Supply Co. Instagram

7th Annual Harambee Art and Craft Music Festival comes to 53rd Street this weekend - Saturday and Sunday, August 26-27

The upcoming free Harambee Art and Craft Music Festival will have something for everyone to enjoy with a full lineup of arts, crafts, fashion, and music at Nichols Park at 1355 E. 55th Street on Saturday, August 26 and Sunday, August 27, from 12-8 p.m. both days.

The event is community supported by the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, Hyde Park Produce, Kilimanjaro International Inc., Pockets, and The Sit Down Cafe & Sushi Bar, and sponsored in part by filmmaker Daryl Brown, fashion design company Reinments of Power, and Allen Paintings.

Harambee, a Kenyan tradition, means “all pull together” in Swahili. All proceeds will go toward the creation of summer youth jobs and scholarships to study abroad in various countries in Africa.

Musical performers will include Bantu Man, Felena Bunn & Friends, Jazz Experience, Super Tribe, Mike Dangeroux & The Tropic, and The Talking Drum.

Festival-goers are encouraged to bring chairs.

For more information go to

Harambee Art and Craft Music Festival graphic

UChicago Local to host Hyde Park Hiring Fair on Tuesday, August 1, from 12- 4 p.m. at Harper Court

Several new restaurants and shops are slated to open in Hyde Park in the coming months, and they will be looking for workers.

UChicago Local, in partnership with 4th Ward Alderman Sophia King and 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, will host a local hiring fair on Tuesday, August 1, from 12-4 p.m. at Harper Court, 5235 S. Harper Court, in the 11th Floor Conference Center.

Candidates will meet hiring representatives from Akira, Aloha Poké Co., Bergstein's NY Delicatessen, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Nella Pizza e Pasta, The Promontory, Té Amo Boba Bar, Treasure Island Foods, Vanille Patisserie, and other Hyde Park businesses.

The businesses are interested in workers with a variety of experience levels for retail/cashier, restaurant (front and back of house), administrative, and management positions.

“Staffing locally is a great way for businesses to truly become a part of the Hyde Park community, and this hiring event will be an opportunity for the many restaurants and shops to connect with talented candidates,” said Alyssa Berman-Cutler, director of Community Economic Development Initiatives in the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement.

Benjamin Rogers, manager at The Promontory, agrees. “We feel fortunate to have such a great local talent base and look forward to meeting more candidates to keep up with our growing hiring demand,” he said.

Job applicants who attend the event will receive validation for two hours of free parking at the Harper Court parking garage. The entrance is on S. Lake Park Avenue just south of McDonald’s. (A fee will be charged for more than two hours.)

Harper Court is also conveniently located near public transportation (Metra Electric to the 53rd Street Station or the 192 CTA bus). Street parking is also available.

For more information and to RSVP to the event, go to

Hyde Park Hiring Fair Graphic
Hyde Park Hiring Fair Graphic

53rd Street entrepreneur uses men’s fashion store to help South Side boys “G.R.O.O.M.,” build confidence

Reported by Patricia Andrews-Keenan

Just over a year ago, Wale Nubi opened Jojayden on 53rd Street to sell custom-made shoes and clothes for men interested in fashion, style and quality. Nowadays, he uses his stately Hyde Park storefront shop to do much more.

Late last year, Nubi, a former IT consultant who began his retail business as a “side hustle,” teamed up with the leader of a fledgling nonprofit that focuses on helping young men develop self-esteem and confidence, in part, through etiquette, dress and appearance.

“I saw that kids on the South Side were often discriminated against because of how they dressed,” said Nubi.  “No one was telling them about the right way to present themselves to avoid negative encounters, especially with the police, and they often didn’t have role models to help them distinguish right from wrong.” 

Nubi, a father of two young sons, knew he wanted to do something to support youth of color both in Hyde Park, and across the city. He found a kindred spirit in Carlos Duncan, who—influenced by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s call to action for citizens to actively engage in mentoring programs—had started a program called “From Gents to Gentlemen” a year earlier. In December 2016, Duncan formed the G.R.O.O.M. Mentoring Group to operate his program, and Nubi joined the organization’s board.

Earlier this year the pair led 10 boys ages 11-18 through a seven-week program, teaching them basic grooming skills such as how to tie a tie, as well as social skills and character-defining habits like looking a person in the eye while offering a firm handshake, keeping their heads up, walking with integrity, being prepared and managing their time, and always using proper manners. They also taught the youth about designing shoes. The mentoring group meets at Jojayden, 1457 E. 53rd Street.

“Meeting Wale opened things up for us to be able offer the program to more kids and help them hone some of those skills,” said Duncan, who met Nubi through a mutual friend who knew of both men’s interest in mentoring youth. Prior to offering the seven-week program at Jojayden, Duncan shared his insights with youth in one-hour, one-time presentations at schools or through other programs.

The vision for G.R.O.O.M.—which stands for “Getting Results Out Of Me”—is to reduce the stigma placed on young African-American males by “grooming them into productive citizens” who are prepared to restore their communities and cities.  Duncan and Nubi want to help more young men see how they can positively reflect what they are on the inside by how they present themselves on the outside. 

Upon completion of the program each student received a custom suit from Jojayden. 

“Many of these young people have never worn a suit, much less a custom-tailored one,” Nubi said while working with the youth earlier this year.

One of those young people was 16-year-old Devinar Billingslea, who participated in the program along with his 11-year-old brother, Demarco.  In addition to getting his first suit, Devinar said he was excited about the different people he met through the program, including professionals who spoke to the students.

“I am more confident because of the program. I learned how to be myself and stand up for myself,” said Billingslea, who added that he needed a male figure in his life and that he is now pushing his friends to get involved with G.R.O.O.M.

Billingslea’s mother, Fatima, said she can see a difference in both of her sons’ confidence levels and that they are no longer afraid to speak in public. “They come home excited about the program,” she said. “I’m so glad they were able to participate.” 

To help pay for the new suits and to give the students a chance to show off what they learned, Nubi and Duncan co-hosted a fundraiser at Jojayden in March called “Walk in a Gent’s Shoes.” They coached the boys in designing shoes from scratch, and some of their shoes sold for upwards of $300 per pair during the fundraiser.

Nubi and Duncan envision the ripple effects of positive change the G.R.O.O.M. program can have. They hope to expand their reach to 1,000 students by the end of 2017 by working within Chicago Public Schools. G.R.O.O.M. is also partnering with an organization called Lipstick Saints to bring some of the lessons it teaches to girls.

At the end of the program this spring, students participated in a graduation event and received awards. The top three awards: the Engaged Gent Award for exception participation, the Sir Award for showing good manners, and the Intelligent Award for academic excellence.

Duncan, the father of a teenage son and an adult daughter, cites his life experiences and lessons learned in barbershops, churches and other important institutions in African American communities, as the guiding force behind G.R.O.O.M. He says the main thing he wants youth who go through the program to understand is that “daily discipline plus good decisions equal a better life.”

The next session of the program at Jojayden will begin this fall.

Wale Nubi, owner of Jojayden of 53rd Street in Hyde Park, with a student.
Wale Nubi, owner of Jojayden, measures a From Gents to Gentlemen participant, for a suit.
Carlos Duncan, founder of G.R.O.O.M, speaks to students.
G.R.O.O.M. founder Carlos Duncan speaks to a group of students.

30 Businesses to Participate in Hyde Park Summer Sidewalk Sale This Thursday through Saturday, July 13-15

Thirty local businesses in the retail corridors surrounding  53rd, 55th, and 57th Streets will participate in the Hyde Park Summer Sidewalk Sale this Thursday through Saturday, July 13-15, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Participating businesses will offer a variety of discounts and deals for customers. Some businesses will have tables outside their stores, and some will hold indoor sidewalk sales, depending on their location and type of merchandise.

The Saturday date of the Sidewalk Sale coincides with The Silver Room Sound System Block Party, taking place from 12-10 p.m., so shoppers will also be able to enjoy live music and other performances on 53rd Street.

Participating 53rd Street and surrounding area businesses include The Silver Umbrella, LA Fitness, Ancien Cycles & Café, Akira, Core Power Yoga, NoteworthyNotes, Sir & Madame, Porkchop, Bonne Sante Health Foods, Dearborn Denim & Apparel, Kilwins, Modern Cooperative, Jojayden, Hyde Park Records, Zberry, Freehling Pot & Pan Co., The Sit Down Café & Sushi Bar, Pockets, Kilimanjaro International, Hyde Park Property Management, Kimbark Laundry, and Pearle Vision.

Participating 55th Street and surrounding area businesses include Hyde Park Florist, Gilda’s Designer Resale Boutique, First Aid Comics, Elston Ace Hardware, Toys et Cetera, Wesley’s Shoe Corral, and Bergstein’s Deli.

On 57th Street,  Cemitas Puebla will participate.

Hyde Park Property Management, located at 5316 S. Dorchester Avenue, will be hosting the Doughnut Vault Food Truck on Saturday, July 13, from 8:30-11:00 a.m. Complimentary doughnuts and coffee will be provided while supplies last,  and customers can take advantage of waived move-in fees with the signing of an apartment lease – a savings of $400.

The Hyde Park Summer Sidewalk Sale is sponsored by the University of Chicago Commercial Real Estate Operations (CREO), Downtown Hyde Park, and the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce.

“The Hyde Park Summer Sidewalk Sale is an excellent way for local businesses to connect with current and new customers while offering enticing savings at the same time,” said Wallace E. Goode, Executive Director of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce.

For the full list of participating businesses, go to

Hyde Park Summer Sidewalk Sale Graphic
Hyde Park Summer Sidewalk Sale Graphic