BRONZEVILLE — A restaurant risks its entire trade with a move, but for Honey 1 BBQ owner and pitmaster Robert Adams Sr. the rewards already have outweighed those risks, only two months after his move to the South Side.
"It's like I'm livin' in heaven, wherever heaven is," Adams said with a jolly laugh Friday. "Things are real good. I'm very happy. Actually, super happy."
For years, Adams has pursued the perfect location for his smoked ribs and other barbecued meats. The Reader's Mike Sula cheered Honey 1's move from Austin to Bucktown at 2241 N. Western Ave. a decade ago. Yet the place, while earning rave reviews among foodies, never really took hold in that location, and in January Adams and his son Robert Jr. announced the decision to move.
Adams said the new location, 746 E. 43rd St., already feels like home.
"The people are very nice," Adams said. "People have come out and welcomed us to the neighborhood. We've got the support of the neighborhood, and over on Western we didn't.
"The people know barbecue over here," he added. "They really know barbecue, Southern barbecue."
For Adams, an Arkansas native, that means slow cooking with wood, a practice embraced by many a South Side weekend barbecuer.
"You couldn't come over here and cook on gas," Adams said. "You can't come over here with a gas grill and expect for them to buy it."
That plays to Adams' strengths, as he's a master of the glass-walled "aquarium" smoker. "That's what makes my thing easier," he said, "because this is what I like doing."
So while Honey 1 lost a dining room in the move, it gained a devoted following of local barbecue aficionados, with Adams saying he is now considering moving into the Bronzeville area himself.
Going from the West Side to the South Side paralleled the course just taken by Uncle Remus, the "saucy fried chicken" outlet that just opened a location on 47th Street.
Yet the two aren't really competitors: Honey 1 is a purist's barbecue restaurant, while Uncle Remus offers fried chicken with barbecue sauce that has won its own fans.
Or, as Adams himself put it with another jolly laugh when asked about it Friday: "Who's Uncle Remus?"
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