What Ever Happened to Uncle John's?

By
Mack Sevier of Uncle John's BBQ. Photo: Sky Full of Bacon

Steve Dolinsky was the first one to tweet news of what was happening with beloved South Side barbecue spot Uncle John's BBQ— that a second location, which would ultimately replace the first, was opening in the new location that also included the new Dat Donut at 83rd and Cottage Grove. Dolinsky reported further in this ABC 7 piece, which you can watch below, about how Dat Donut owner Darryl Townson, who got his start working at a Leon's BBQ in the same location, recruited Uncle John's owner Mack Sevier to help make the new Dat Donut location a one-stop shop for South Side goodness. Now Heather Shouse fills in some of the story on the beloved pitmaster and his apprentice at Time Out Chicago.

Though it may come as a surprise (he's pretty much ageless), Sevier is well into retirement age— he's 68— and he's had a few health issues. And in Townson he seems to have found a protege to pass the torch to:

Sevier was comfortable enough with the setup to sell Townson his hot links recipe (which will continue to be produced at Grant Park Packing), as well as the right to call the restaurant on the Dat compound Uncle John’s (8249 S Cottage Grove Ave, 773-952-6236). Sevier says no written recipes exchanged hands, other than the hot links “formula,” as he calls it. But the purveyors, ingredients, eyeballed measurements and methods were all conveyed via informal training sessions so that, seemingly, the product is the same. From an outsider perspective (mine), the tips, ribs and links are pretty darn close to those at Sevier’s original location (337 E 69th St, 773-892-1233)—which is to say, delicious.

Not everything is the same— Townson has a different kind of smoker than the "aquarium" pit that Mack and other South Side guys swear by, and there's still a learning curve for it in Mack's mind. And the original Uncle John's on 69th will remain open for another year or two, at least. [TOC]