CHICAGO — Jamal Junior is the owner of one of Chicago’s most iconic Black-owned gay bars.
Now, the businessman is giving the restaurant business a try and hopes to share his grandmother’s pizza recipe with customers in the LGBTQ community and beyond.
Jamal Junior is one of Chicago’s Very Own.
Junior said he can’t wait to serve customers his grandmother’s pizza recipe. He said it’s a recipe she created over 50 years ago.
Junior owns Williams Inn Pizza and Sports Bar in Chicago’s South Loop and is doing more than serving a tasty dish — he’s paving the way for the next generation of LGBTQ customers and non-alike.
“We already had the discussion that it would be open to everyone,” he said.
Junior is also currently the owner of Jeffery Pub — the longest running Black owned gay bar in the City of Chicago and in the country. Established in the 1960s Jeffery Pub has been a staple in the South Shore community serving all ages of the African American LGBTQ community.
“I get a lot of response from the older cliental who thank me for keeping this open for them having a safe place to come to come,” Junior said.
“It’s always a good place to come and have a nice drink, enjoy time with your friends listen to some great music,” Teaunto Stephens, Junior’s business partner and friend, said.
Stephens said Junior has endeared himself to his customers and neighborhood not only by filling a void in the bar scene but by helping others in the community.
“We do food drives, we do toy drives things of that nature as well as things in the LGBTQ community, Stephens said.
Junior said it has been a lifelong dream to open a restaurant. Williams Inn Pizza And Sports Bar is a tribute to his grandmother and a restaurant she once owned on Ashland Avenue. It is where Junior learned the ins and outs of the restaurant industry.
“She taught basically everything, from the stocking the ordering the payroll, everything,” he said.
With last month’s Pride celebrations, Jeffery Pub and Junior’s latest restaurant venture has received quite a bit of press.
“I’ve been pretty low key about it, I’ve been getting a lot of attention since, pride, since the mayor campaigned here,” Junior said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot even gave Junior a shout out on Instagram during Pride month. But with all the attention from the LGBTQ community, Junior hopes the new restaurant will be a welcoming place for all.
“One reason we chose the south loop is because it is a very diverse community we want everyone to be comfortable,” he said.
“As we like to say it is a space for all, it is lgbtq friendly, it is whomever you are can come as you are,” Stephens said.
He says he hopes the new gathering place will be a mainstay in the community.
“Well I would like it to be a staple in the community, I would like for people to understand where the business comes from and make it their neighborhood spot to hang out at,” Junior said.
Williams Pizza Inn and Sports Bar is set to open in the coming weeks.