PULLMAN — The promise of brisket and ribs brought out a large crowd to the grand opening of Lexington Betty Smokehouse at the One Eleven Food Hall in Pullman Saturday.

“This is a great opportunity for them and a great opportunity for our communities,” said Thomas McMahon, a longtime resident of Pullman. “It’s also going to bring visitors to our neighborhood so this is a win, win, win situation for everybody.”

The grand opening had lots to keep visitors entertained, including a DJ and rolled ice cream. Customers could also buy food from Majani Soulful Vegan Cuisine and Laine’s Bake Shop, the other two restaurants based in the food hall at 756 E. 111th St.

Related: Lexington Betty Smokehouse Opening In Pullman Food Hall

The One Eleven Food Hall serves as a launching pad for businesses and gives them the exposure to branch out. It opened last year in the 111th Street Gateway Retail Center at 756 E. 111th St. It’s a collaboration between the city and Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, a 10-year-old nonprofit that works to coordinate resources to bring projects — and jobs — to underserved neighborhoods.

A line of customers waited eagerly in advance of Saturday’s ribbon cutting.

Customers crowd into the One Eleven Food Hall Saturday for the grand opening of the Lexington Betty Smokehouse. Credit: Maria Maynez/Block Club Chicago

“I’m so excited because I’ve been to their [Oak Park] location on North Avenue and I would still make that drive but I’m so excited because it’s close to where I live now,” said Sharon Gober, a Pullman resident.

To start the ribbon-cutting, there was a speech from Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) and Lexington Betty chef and owner Dominique Leach.

“We’re so excited about having more food options in our community,” said Beale. “We talk about what we don’t have, but we need to start bragging about what we do have, and that is a new smokehouse in the 9th Ward.”

Dominique Leach, owner of Lexington Betty Smokehouse, now open in the One Eleven Food Hall in Pullman. Credit: Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives/Calibrate

With new developments making their way to Pullman, Lexington Betty is part of what is being done through the city’s Invest South/West program.

“Pullman is a model for what we need to do in so many other neighborhoods, and we are going to take that and expand it to other neighborhoods, you have the mayor’s commitment for that,” said Samir Mayekar, deputy mayor of economic and neighborhood development.

Ald. Anthony Beale, Lexington Betty owner Dominique Leach and others participate in the grand opening. Credit: Maria Maynez/Block Club Chicago

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