Dat Donut, besides having the best imaginable name for a South Side doughnut shop, has long been one of the standouts of what we must admit is not a doughnut-rich town (even as the scene has improved— at higher per-doughnut cost— in the last couple of years). Now owner Darryl Townson is expanding into another popular area— though for him it's more like returning to his roots. He's planning to open Dat Bar-B-Q in the location next to his 8249 S. Cottage Grove Ave. shop. Which was not only a former Leon's BBQ, but the one where a teenager named Darryl Townson got his start in the restaurant business.
The Leon's BBQ chain is gone now (Leon Finney died in 2008, and the one store still bearing his name, on Archer, was started by a former employee and was never really directly related) but in its heyday in the 70s and 80s it was the first south side barbecue joint to break through to a white north side audience and make them aware of the south side barbecue style built on ribtips and links and the use of a glassed-in pit. (Go here for more history.) Townson bought the building both businesses are in from Finney's estate a few years ago, and has brought in new equipment (at one point, at least, the Leon's were not generally smoking on site but bringing in meat from a central commissary; Townson will do all the smoking in house). He plans to open October 15. [Crain's]