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‘It’s All Good’ Episode 20: Barbershop Books and Beachside Eats

Two stories of Chicagoans inspiring and empowering the next generation of South Siders through literacy and entrepreneurship.

A young reader checks out a new book.
Donald Bailey
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Chez Smith isn’t waiting anymore.

“You don’t have to wait until you have all the funding or the biggest space,” Smith says on the latest episode of “‘It’s All Good.”

“I think we have a responsibility to do what we can with what we have.”

In 2020, Smith founded Brilliant Brown Boys Book Club, a Chicago-based program for Black boys emphasizing the importance of reading through book discussions.

Trying to find more potential readers, Smith created Fades, Fros and Books, installing mini libraries at various South Side barbershops to make reading more accessible and appealing to young folks stopping in for a cut.

“The barbershop is more than just a place to go and get your hair cut. It’s like a brotherhood in the Black community,” Smith said. “When the little guys come in, sometimes the older people talk mess. I wanted to give them something that they can do during that time.”

Credit: Donald Bailey
Young readers in the Fades, Fros and Books program

Episode 20 also highlights the newly opened Hot Girlz Grill concession stand at Rainbow Beach. After months of working to secure a Park District contract, six women ages 17-21 opened their business earlier this month.

“I’m excited and I’m ready to see how it turns out,” said Tieara LeShore, an Olive Harvey College student taking a semester away from school to make her shop a success — without pay.

All six owners have experience in the food service industry, as they worked concessions at Bears games through Lost Boyz Inc, a South Shore nonprofit helping the owners get their business off the ground.

“When I was growing up, every other South Shore business was owned be a resident,” Lost Boyz Inc. founder LaVonte Stewart says on “It’s All Good.”

“And now barely any businesses are owned by the neighbors. So I started thinking about how to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

Hot Girlz Grill offers burgers, nachos, hot wings and other concession staples. It’s open through Oct. 31 at the Rainbow Beach House, 3111 E. 77th St. Hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays.

Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Hot Girlz Grill co-owners Tieara LaShore (left) and Marilyn Dixon pose for a picture with flyers announcing their grand opening Sunday, which coincided with a free House City event at Rainbow Beach.

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