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Uncle Remus, West Side Barbecue Staple, Welcomed to South Side

BRONZEVILLE — In the rivalry in the African-American community between the West Side and South Side, now there's something both sides can agree on.

Uncle Remus, a renowned West Side restaurant chain known for its "saucy fried chicken," makes an incursion into the South Side Friday with the opening of a Bronzeville outlet at 737 E. 47th St.

"The store is new to the South Side, but the brand is not new to the South Side," said Charmaine Rickette, chief executive officer of the restaurant chain. She said South Siders have been traveling to get the chicken for years, only now they don't have to go as far.

Yet she acknowledged, "It's always a war" with the Harold's Chicken Shack outlets, which originated on the South Side, and now Uncle Remus is taking the battle to Harold's with the decision to "expand our territory."

"There is no better place to open up a new location than the up-and-coming Bronzeville area," she told supporters at the restaurant's opening Friday morning.

"It's all about the sauce," Rickette added, explaining, "It's a mix of sweet and tangy. It has an aroma to it, too."

That sauce has earned a devoted following on both sides of town.

"I don't buy this West Side, South Side stuff," said Ald. Will Burns (4th) in welcoming the new business to Bronzeville. "We're all Chicagoans."

"We're happy to have a Chicago-owned business come to the South Side," Burns said, "just like Honey 1 BBQ at 43rd and Cottage."

Burns said it was typical of the diversified development he encourages, mixing "both a national and a local flavor as well."

For Uncle Remus, it's an expansion from its two West Side outlets at 5611 W. Madison St. and 4650 W. North Ave., as well as another in west suburban Broadview.

Original Uncle Remus owner Gus Rickette Sr. talks about how the firm prides itself on its hiring practices with his daughter Charmaine Rickette, the restaurant chain's chief executive officer.   

Original Uncle Remus owner Gus Rickette Sr. talks about how the firm prides itself on its hiring practices with his daughter Charmaine Rickette, the restaurant chain's chief executive officer.

Original owner Gus Rickette Sr., Charmaine's father, said the business prides itself on its hiring practices. He said that when he started out in the restaurant business more than 50 years ago, he was out to create a job most of all for himself, but as the business thrived and grew he didn't shy from hiring workers who might have had problems with the law in their past — a policy now endorsed by his daughter.

"Once you're in the system, I know that you are unwanted," Gus Rickette said, adding that he ignored that social stigma to find many fine employees over the years.

Uncle Remus joined Bronzeville newcomer Honey 1 BBQ, which also originated on the West Side. After a decade in Bucktown on Western Avenue, it made the full move to 746 E. 43rd St. two months ago.

"I'm just excited to see new businesses coming to the community ... owned by African-Americans and owned by folks who live in the city of Chicago," Burns said.

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uNCLE rEMUS on the south side

Uncle Remus is NOW OPEN on The South Side! Be the first to enjoy chicago's finest fried chicken.

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