Pearl’s Southern Comfort will serve its last po’boy on Saturday, June 24 after eight years in Edgewater. Danny Beck and business partner Rich Hagerty co-own Southport sports bar Toons Bar & Grill and Beck’s in Lincoln Park. Both are fathers of teenagers and say they are reprioritizing.
“Three restaurants is a lot for anyone, let alone in these times and with everything else we have going on,” Beck says. “We decided it was time for us to have a little more time for ourselves and our families... at the end of the day, we’re getting up there in years and we need to slow down.”
Beck, a southeastern Kansas native who in 1996 helped to open Chicago’s House of Blues, and Hagerty announced the impending closure on Saturday, June 17 on Facebook. The pair have spent more than two decades working side-by-side at Toons, Pearl’s, and Beck’s.
Pearl’s debuted in 2015 at 5352 N. Broadway Street. Named for Beck’s great-grandmother Pearl and then-seven-year-old daughter Olivia Pearl, the restaurant sought to foster a ”funky and rowdy” atmosphere with a menu that scratched a local itch for Southern fare, Beck told Eater at the time. Pearl’s introduced Edgewater’s first rooftop bar, offering an open-air spot to imbibe Hurricanes, Sazeracs, and Kentucky Mules.
In an era when Analogue and Heaven on Seven dominated the city’s Cajun and Creole scene, Pearl’s managed to carve out its own niche with opening menu hits like savory crawfish cheesecake, New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp, and catfish po’boys. These early favorites became staples over the years, remaining on the menu throughout the restaurant’s tenure. It also featured barbecue, which the team prepared on an in-house smoker that could handle 250 pounds of meat at once. “I personally thought we had some of the best ribs in the city,” Beck says. “We were never [really considered] a barbecue restaurant, but I would have put up those ribs against a lot of the big guys.”
The co-owners found an interested party who purchased the building on Broadway. Beck declined to name the buyer but said that a pre-existing restaurant is slated to move into the former Pearl’s space.
The area won’t be totally bereft of Southern dining options after the closure. Fans can drown their sorrows at Big Jones, chef Paul Fehribach’s neighborhood restaurant in Andersonville, and Luella’s Southern Kitchen, chef Darnell Reed’s Cajun spot in Lincoln Square, and at Daisy’s Po-Boy and Cafe in Hyde Park from Virtue chef Erick WIlliams. But in Beck’s view, there’s still plenty of room in Chicago for growth in the genre that captured his heart back in the ‘90s. “I was trained in New Orleans and that was my passion at the time,” he says. “Great New Orleans food, great barbecue, and put ‘em together.”
Pearl’s patrons have three days to stop in and say au revoir ahead of a final service on Saturday.