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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

Fire Forces West Side’s Uncle Remus & Guilty Pleasurez Bakery To Close

The restaurant will be shut down for up to six weeks as the building is renovated, but a restaurant rep said they'll be back "better than ever."

The Uncle Remus restaurant on Madison after the fire.
Pascal Sabino / Block Club Chicago
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AUSTIN — A fire tore through Uncle Remus & Guilty Pleasurez Bakery  on the West Side on Thursday morning.

Fire crews responded to a blaze at the restaurant, 4731 W. Madison St., said Larry Langford, Chicago Fire Department spokesman. It was a small fire but it caused significant damage, Langford said.

Chicago Fire Department Spokesman Larry Langford said crews responded to a blaze at the restaurant at 4731 W. Madison St. It was a small fire but it caused significant damage, Langford said.

The Uncle Remus location just west at 5611 W. Madison St. remains open.

Restaurant rep Akisha Williams Hunt said the fire started from coals in the barbecue pit as workers were preparing rib tips for the day. The flames spread throughout the room in seconds after a worker stepped away, she said.

“It actually happened in a blink of an eye,” Williams Hunt said.

No workers were hurt. One police officer was hospitalized for minor smoke inhalation, Langford said.

The damage from the fire will force the location to close for three to six weeks, Williams Hunt said. The other locations of the fried chicken franchise will continue to operate.

“They’re coming back better than ever remodeled,” Williams Hunt said.

Uncle Remus is a quintessential chicken shop in Chicago and one of the best known restaurants to come out of the West Side. The shop is famous for its signature mild sauce, and is thought to be one of the originators of the smoky, spicy and sweet condiment.

Thursday’s accident at the original Uncle Remus location isn’t the only time the chicken shop has had a fire. Another location suffered a fire years ago, but the business bounced back, the family said.

Orlando Mattox, a family member who works for the store, said the fire won’t stop owners from expanding to a new store on Taylor Street and opening another shop in Georgia.

 “It’s just a small setback for something even better, because you know, we’re growing as a business,” Mattox said. “I think it’s a new beginning.”

Uncle Remus & Guilty Pleasurez Bakery is owned by Gus Rickette Jr., whose father founded the quintessential fried chicken chain Uncle Remus Saucy Fried Chicken. But the business damaged in the fire is not affiliated with the Uncle Remus Saucy Fried Chicken brand, which is run by the founder’s daughter Charmaine Rickette, she said.

Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.

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