Jay Z and Beyonce may not be buying the vacant New Regal Theater, but there's some development happening across the street. Real estate and restaurant entrepreneur Claude Jones is attempting to fill the market hole by bringing a new restaurant to the original Leon's Bar-B-Q location on 79th Street.
Jones, who previously worked on reviving Army & Lou's, is eyeing a renovation of the shuttered space and is projecting a fall 2014 opening. It will become a different and expanded barbecue concept, which Jones feels the area needs.
"There's a great opportunity on the South Side," Jones says. "The first or second restaurant to get in is going to have a captive audience."
Whereas Leon's consisted primarily of carryout business, Jones is planning a complete renovation that will result in indoor seating and a possible outdoor patio. Leon's encompassed 1800 square feet and a large open lot.
Jones is also working to secure an existing North Side barbecue restaurant to expand to the location and run the restaurant, describing the lease as "95 percent complete." When open, expect traditional barbecue fare and "Southern sides." Booze service is up in the air—the area is currently dry—but he's working with the local Alderman in hopes of changing that.
Jones is also hoping to tap into the needs of area diners, many of who are hampered by Red Line reconstruction and crave more dining options nearby. "It's a good thing to have more restaurants pop up down here," he says. "There's a real need."
He's hoping to full some of that need in fall 2014.
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