UPDATE: A spokesperson clarified that Lillie’s Q won’t be closing for good, but it’s on a temporary hiatus to renovate. Revised story follows.
Lillie’s Q, the Wicker Park barbecue restaurant that opened nine years ago, will close on Monday — temporarily — a spokesperson said, updating information previously provided. The restaurant, 1856 W. North Avenue, introduced many Chicagoans to different barbecue sauces from across the country, and owner Charlie McKenna later began selling the sauces and rubs in stores. A bottle of the Lillie’s Q Carolina-style sauce even appeared last month in a gift basket Steven Colbert gave to presidential hopeful Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
McKenna should have more news shortly, as a spokesperson teased a “new direction” for Lillie’s Q. He’s a South Carolina native with fine dining experience having working at Tru. McKenna mixed that with his love for Southern-style cooking. He won the 2007 World Championship of Barbecue in Memphis and used the momentum to open Lillie’s Q in 2010.
A Lillie’s Q inside Chicago’s French Market has closed, and McKenna tried to expand on his love for southern food by opening Dixie in Bucktown. The restaurant closed in 2017 after about a year. The Lillie’s Q inside the United Center will continue to serve smoked meats, according to the spokesperson.
Lillie’s Q’s temporary departure further exasperates what Reader food critic Mike Sula called “the North Side problem” when it comes to finding good barbecue. North Siders may just have to travel south of Madison soon to find quality smoked meats.
Meanwhile, fans of McKenna’s barbecue have until Monday to visit Lillie’s Q in Wicker Park until it goes into hibernation. Check back for updates on Lillie’s 2.0.