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Smokin' Woody's Former Pitmaster Returns With the Last Pit Stop on Lawrence

 The Last Pit Stop is the latest barbecue venture from Calvin Woods, formerly of Smokin' Woody's.
Peek Inside the Last Pit Stop
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LINCOLN SQUARE — A familiar face is manning the smoker at Chicago's newest barbecue joint, the Last Pit Stop.

Calvin Woods, who longtime fans of smoked meats will remember as the former owner of Smokin' Woody's and Calvin's BBQ, is co-owner of the eatery, which opened Tuesday at 1964 W. Lawrence Ave.

Heart problems caused Woods to exit the restaurant scene in 2009 but he was coaxed into a comeback by Last Pit Stop partner Tony Zamudio, who worked the line under Woods at Smokin' Woody's.

Zamudio went on to run a successful house-painting business, which he continues to operate, but couldn't get barbecue out of his blood, he said.

He approached Woods about getting the old act back together and Woods finally agreed.

The location on Lawrence Avenue, which became available after the departure of George's Deli in February, was a natural choice.

"Tony said, 'You were in this neighborhood before, and we done real well,'" Woods recalled.

Woods was raring to open as soon as possible, but Zamudio insisted on a complete remodel of the restaurant, pulling out molded paneling, exposing a brick wall and laying a new wood floor, among other upgrades.

"I wanted to come in here, patch up the place ... do things halfway," Woods said. "But he insisted, 'We need new.'"

The result is a "nice, friendly, clean place," said Zamudio, who lives in Jefferson Park.

The extensive, affordable menu features the full array of barbecue standbys — ribs, pulled pork, brisket and mac 'n' cheese — along with catfish, turkey legs and even a veggie burger.

Patrons are welcome to BYOB, as long as they limit their alcohol to beer and wine.

"We don't want bottles of booze," Woods said.

The Last Pit Stop eventually will add breakfast on weekends, but for now is open for lunch and dinner, dine-in or carryout, seven days a week.

Said Woods, who makes the trek in from his home in Waukegan, "We have to pay the rent every day, so we thought we'd open every day."

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