Denzel Washington inspires reopening of Leon’s Barbecue in Woodlawn

SHARE Denzel Washington inspires reopening of Leon’s Barbecue in Woodlawn

Juanita Hubbard with actor Denzel Washington. | Facebook

What Denzel Washington wants, Denzel Washington gets.

The Academy Award-winning actor was on Chicago’s South Side last year looking for Leon’s Barbecue restaurant when he and his driver decided to stop and ask for directions.

They pulled over at East End Avenue and 86th Street, where they met 87-year-old Juanita Hubbard — arguably one of Washington’s biggest fans. The video of Washington and Hubbard went viral online.

Washington told Hubbard that he had family in the area and would often eat at Leon’s Barbecue, which was previously at 86th Street and Stony Island Avenue [Leon’s has never had a restaurant at this location] .

Leon’s was founded in 1940 and, at one point, the barbecue restaurant had four locations throughout the South Side. The restaurants had since closed.

Leon’s Barbecue reopened Thursday at 1528 E. 63rd St.

“Seeing the video of Denzel and knowing the popularity we have enjoyed gave me that extra push to get the ball rolling,” Leon Finney Jr., whose father founded Leon’s restaurant, said in a news release.

“Now, when Denzel asks ‘Where’s Leon’s?’, you can say, ‘Here is Leon’s,'” Finney said.

There’s no word yet on if or when Washington will revisit Woodlawn to hit up his old favorite barbecue joint.

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