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Soul Food, BBQ Are Specialties of New Roseland Restaurant

By Wendell Hutson | September 8, 2013 8:33am
 E & E Smackers, a carryout restaurant, is set to open Monday, Sept. 9, 2013 in Roseland.
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ROSELAND — E & E Smackers won't be your normal place to grab a bite to eat for lunch or dinner, say its owners, Eligah Baker and Eugene Kimmons.

Instead, the new carryout restaurant at 11028 S. Halsted St. "will meet your every taste bud and have you craving for more," said Kimmons, 53. "I know there are a lot of places around Roseland to eat but very few, if any, offer soul food."

The new restaurant is set to open at 11 a.m. Monday, serving everything from handmade hamburgers and chicken wings to rib tips.

"I come from a barbecue family. This is what I do best," added Kimmons, who in 2010 started Old Man Johnson's BBQ Sauce with his wife Annette. "Only my barbecue sauce will be used on our meats."

The retail sauce is sold at Pete's Produce in Calumet Heights and Auburn Gresham.

Opening a restaurant has been a dream of Kimmons for 20 years.

"My grandfather used to own Johnson's Rib Hunt at 67th and Rhodes in the 1970s, and then relocated to Albuquerque, N.M., where I attended college," recalled Kimmons. "I worked at my uncle's restaurant while attending college in New Mexico. That's how I grew to love the business of barbecue."

Southern cuisine will be featured on Sundays, said Annette Kimmons, a hair stylist who lives in West Chatham.

"I call it 'Soul Food Sundays.' That's when soul food is available. I'm talking about hot water cornbread, smothered pork chops, homemade macaroni and cheese, turkey and dressing, the works," she said. "There are tons of churches located up and down Halsted Street and we are hoping to see all of them on Sundays."

She added that homemade pound cake slices from Maizelle's Delights in Chatham would also be sold.

"Homemade items that are locally found is what our customers will get from us. So when customers ask about the barbecue sauce, we can tell them where in Chicago to go buy it," she said. "As well as our pound cake slices, which is made daily by one of my hair clients."

Ideally, she said she plans to continue working as a full-time hairs stylist at her mother's salon and also work at the restaurant.

"If the Lord makes a way, I would like to do both because I love doing hair," she added.

Next to their youngest child Kara, a third grader at Medgar Evers Elementary School, the Kimmons have five other children and five grandchildren.

Baker, who said he previously owned a barbecue restaurant in St. Louis and Wilmington, Del., between 1979-1986, also plans to keep his day job.

"I am a driver for the handicapped but my wife and I plan to be active at the restaurant too," explained Baker, 67.

The restaurant faces stiff competition, though.

It is located next to White Castle at the corner of 111th and Halsted streets. Also at that same intersection is a Shark's fast-food eatery and a Barney's Pizzeria. There is also a McDonald's and a Popeyes Chicken a few blocks away in the 11300 block of South Halsted Street.

"That all sounds good for teenagers who like that type of processed food, but for adults looking for homemade meals, I think we will be OK," added Kimmons. "Our restaurant will also sell catfish, hot dogs, polish sausages, gyros, pizza puffs, and more. So we have plenty of items for the younger crowd and older crowd, who tend to want a whole meal."

All major credit cards are accepted and customers can place orders by phone at 773-928-5000. The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. And police officers, firemen and seniors receive a 10 percent discount on orders.

Local delivery service is also being considered.

"A few nightclubs on Halsted have already contacted us about delivering food to their places at night," Annette Kimmons said.

The wife, mother and grandmother said everything is coming together for her and her husband.

"When you put God first, He blesses you. And becoming restaurant owners is one of the greatest blessings God has bestowed on us in the 15 years we've been married," added Annette.