James Lemons, the owner and operator of Lem's Bar-B-Q, the South Side institution that helped define Chicago's barbecue style, died on Sunday, according to Callahan Funeral Home. Lemons, along with brothers Bruce and Myles, in 1968 opened the second Lem's in Chatham, credited as the first restaurant to serve up Chicago's iconic rib tips. The news was first posted on Facebook. Lemons was 87.
Lemons and his brothers grew up in Indianola, Miss. Myles Lemons, the oldest, opened the first Lem's in 1951. James Lemons was later brought on as the chef for the second location, and was the last brother involved in the family business. There's only one Lem's currently in operation, hailed as a barbecue icon not just in Chicago, but across the country. It's also one of Eater Chicago's 9 essential barbecue spots in Chicago.
A public viewing is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday at Callahan Funeral Home, 7030 S. Halsted St. Visitation will take place 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, followed by the funeral at 7:30 p.m. at New Covenant Baptist Church, 754 E. 77th St.