Denzel Washington Prompts Reopening Of Leon's Barbecue In Woodlawn

Mike Krauser
March 09, 2018 - 11:58 am

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- When actor Denzel Washington went looking for a closed barbecue restaurant on Chicago’s south side last fall he unwittingly created so much buzz the place is back in business.

Denzel Washington was looking for Leon's Barbeque near 86th and Stoney Island, when he knocked on the door of 87-year-old Juanita Hubbard. He asked her ‘where’s Leon’s?’ in reference to the longtime South Side barbecue restaurant he remembered from his childhood. The restaurant had closed in 2011, but the video taken that day went viral.

Partly due to the publicity, Leon's Barbecue has reopened near 63rd and Stoney Island. 

“The huge inquiries that we received after Denzel identified this was the place that he was looking for,” said Leon Finney Jr., the son of the original restaurant’s founder. “I felt so blessed that Mr. Washington would come to city and say ‘I want to get some Leon’s barbecue.’"

Finney told CBS 2 Chicago he was going to reopen anyway with the Obama Presidential Center moving in nearby, but the publicity generated by the Denzel Washington visit accelerated things. 

And as for Denzel, he’ll never have trouble finding Leon’s again.

Finney placed a sign in the front window reading, “Denzel, here’s Leon’s.”

Finney also said a slab of ribs will soon be on its way to Denzel Washington straight from the South Side of Chicago.