For this great holiday, the fourth of July, I went to Lem's on 75th.
Never before have I set foot in a line just to get some BBQ. It felt like I had been in line for a half hour waiting for my order of hot links. I don't normally order hot links, I don't do well with hot or spicy foods.
So why the change today?
Well word came out that there were no more rib tibs or small ends. Those were the only items I was going to order. I waiting in that line all that time would it make sense to have a hissy fit and walk away with nothing?
Other individuals in line ordered either center cut or slabs.
As I type this I'm partaking in the hot links. I realized in all the times I avoided hot links, they're not that bad. I still don't like the spice, however I also realized after trying peppers (especially banana or jalapeño peppers) for the first time in the Morehouse cafeteria in a sandwich that my taste has changed. They're not what they were when I was a young buck. With them I'm also having French fries soaked in BBQ sauce the way only Lem's can make it.
Oh yeah I mentioned a line didn't I?
Well we drove by twice today. Me and my mother. I didn't want to wait in line so we went back home. We drove by Memorial Day weekend and there was a line there as well. In the past year I've made irregular visits this is probably my third visit this year. I don't ever recall in my years of patronizing this business a line hooking just outside of this joint.
In the past year or so Lem's has been in the headlines. Chicago Tribune in fact. There was even a video with the proprietor of Lem's, James Lemon, courtesy of the Tribune. Perhaps in light of this attention this is probably why they ran out of small ends and rib tips.
It's probably also why they've redecorated the place and why employees have identifiable uniforms these days. I don't recall employees here ever having anything resembling uniforms. Although, to be sure there might have been a dress code that I've never picked up on. It's not like they'll let you show up at work wearing whatever.
Aside from their marquee they have a brand new logo with Lem's BBQ in the middle of a burning flame. Their employees wear this logo on their green baseball caps and they wear green shirts and aprons. That's what I call stepping up the game.
Plus it appears that there has been some redecorating around the place. When I visited that place last year the menu looked like it had been there for years and probably handwritten. I look for Lem's on the internet and found some pictures where there is a professionally printed menu for the benefit of those figuring out what they're going to order.
On top of that the green motif is found outside of the establishment. Especially the lighted marquee which was painted green. In addition there were new signs right on the marquee that not only included what is served there, but also the new Lem's logo. Again stepping up that game!
Now back to the line.
Well, here's more evidence of stepping up the game. Well I noticed this when I drove by during Memorial Day weekend. Someone was out taking orders outside and then bringing them in for the cooks to work on. Kind of tight and certainly a way to keep customers happy while they have to wait. There was nothing fancy about it, just a lady with a small notepad writing orders with a pen and probably two or more orders per sheet.
Since I was in line outside I was given this treatment although I was disappointed with only being able to walk away with hot links. The links are really good I'm only disappointed that there were only three in the order, but if I ate more than one my mouth would be on fire!
When Southern Cooking Migrates North
More Lem's BBQ pics
Lem's BBQ pics on Flickr
Lem's location at 59th & State