10 longstanding Black-owned businesses to support all year – Chicago Tribune newstrendslive

Looking for ways to celebrate our Black community throughout the year, Chicago?

Support the Black-owned businesses that not only have deep roots here, but also continue to define our city.

My Tribune colleagues have written recently about gifted entrepreneurs whose tireless and ingenious work ethic has propelled their generations-old companies forward despite economic challenges and the coronavirus pandemic.

For some, the look and feel of their products has adjusted to accommodate an audience that is more digitally savvy. For others, sticking to an original recipe or formula means familiarity is key to keeping their customers’ trust.

Below are just 10 examples of longtime Black-owned firms in Chicago — but there are so many more to discover.

Become a Tribune subscriber — it’s just $12 for a 1 year digital subscription.

Follow us on Instagram — @vintagetribune.

And, catch me Monday mornings on WLS-AM’s “The Steve Cochran Show” for a look at “This week in Chicago history.”

Thanks for reading!

— Kori Rumore, visual reporter

Chicago history | More newsletters | Puzzles & Games | Today’s eNewspaper edition

The original “Sausage King” was Judge Parker, McFolling’s grandfather, who started Parker House in 1919. Today, it is one of the oldest meat processors in the country. It is also one of the oldest Black-owned businesses in the country. Read more.

  • Photo gallery: Parker House Sausage began with $10 and a family recipe. 102 years later, it’s a Chicago icon — and one of America’s oldest Black-owned businesses.
John H. Johnson, publisher of Ebony magazine, in 1967.

Much like Bibles have been a mainstay in hotels and motels across America, so was Ebony magazine when it came to Black homes and businesses. If you’re of a certain age, the Chicago-based publication was just a constant. One never questioned its presence.

Today, the magazine lives on in a digital format and its incredible archives are being digitized. Read more.

  • From 2005: John H. Johnson was known as the man who turned Ebony into gold
  • From 2019: Johnson Publishing once chronicled Black life in Ebony and Jet. It sold the magazines in 2016 and now it’s going out of business.
  • From 2020: Johnson Publishing art auction marks final chapter for Chicago-based African American media empire
Argia B's Mumbo Sauce.

Although the condiment was created in the 1950s by a South Sider and was used at several rib joints, its popularity here waned except among an older generation, those familiar with the brand said. But across the country, and for decades, the tangy, sweet barbecue sauce has been considered the flavor of the District of Columbia. Read more.

Lem’s Bar-B-Q, the oldest Black-owned barbecue restaurant in Chicago, has survived with a history powered by fire and family. Brothers Bruce and Myles Lemons opened in 1954, then in 1968 added the iconic location in the Chatham neighborhood. Read more.

  • Nick Kindelsperger: The fascinating history of Chicago barbecue, told in Tribune coverage from 1850s to present day
  • Nick Kindelsperger: As Texas barbecue ascends in Chicago, what happens to our own South Side style?
  • Louisa Chu: How Chicago’s Black-owned restaurants have fared during the pandemic — 8 owners tell their stories
Joan Johnson, right, and her husband, George Johnson, co-founders of hair care company Johnson Products, in an undated photo.

Joan Johnson and her husband, George, cofounded Johnson Products Co. with $250 in 1954, bringing Afro Sheen and Ultra Sheen hair care products to a previously unserved African American market. By 1971, Johnson Products Co. became the first Black-owned company to be listed on the American Stock Exchange.

So it shouldn’t be a shock to see Johnson’s legacy of Black entrepreneurship going strong in 2021 under the auspices of Johnson’s granddaughters, Cara Hughes and Erin Tolefree third-generation entrepreneurs. Read more.

It’s always apple fritter season at Old Fashioned Donuts on the South Side of Chicago — but the huge, fruit-studded fritters weren’t on the menu when Buritt Bulloch opened the business in 1972, with his wife, Mamie. Read more.

  • Louisa Chu: The founders of 5 iconic Black restaurants in Chicago — Old Fashioned Donuts, Taurus Flavors, Uncle Remus Saucy Fried Chicken, Lem’s Bar-B-Q and Harold’s Chicken — and how they helped form a culinary culture
Roseland Pharmacy owner Howard Bolling at 11254 S. Michigan Ave., April 1, 2021, in Chicago.

In 1973, Howard Bolling secured a $55,000 loan and took a big chance.

The young pharmacist had worked at Walgreens for years but was ready to go out on his own. A mentor helped him get the loan and find a pharmacy corner shop at 11254 S. Michigan Ave. that the owners wanted to sell.

Friends told him he was crazy for wanting to open a Black-owned business in the then majority-white neighborhood of Roseland. Read more.

Dave’s Red Hots, the oldest hot dog stand in Chicago, can trace its history back to one teenager who walked out of Russia in the early 1900s.

You may remember our story about the shop’s current owners, the Fountain family. In 2021, the shop celebrated its 50th anniversary as a Black-owned business. Four generations of women now run the restaurant on the West Side of the city. Read more.

Victor Love and his mother, Josephine "Mother" Wade, co-owners of Josephine’s Southern Cooking, at their restaurant in Chicago Feb. 7, 2022. At left is a photo of Josephine and her husband, Rupert Smith, taken in 2001.

Vintage Chicago Tribune


The Vintage Tribune newsletter is a deep dive into the Chicago Tribune’s archives featuring photos and stories about the people, places and events that shape the city’s past, present and future.

Josephine “Mother” Wade’s business has far exceeded the life spans of closed iconic soul food restaurants Army & Lou’s, Izola’s, Edna’s, Soul Queen and Gladys’ Luncheonette.

Countless legends have enjoyed a meal here. The reigning queen of Chicago soul food served the Queen of Soul for decades, whenever Aretha Franklin was in town. Read more.

The almost 90-year-old South Side institution has helped families bury police officers, homicide victims and singer Sam Cooke. See more photos.

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable bust on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

All follow Chicago’s first non-indigenous resident, a Black man named Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, for whom Lake Shore Drive was renamed. Some came to the city from the South as part of the Great Migration. Others survived the worst race riot in Chicago history. How many more were inspired by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s move to Chicago in 1966, to confront housing segregation? One very special import arrived as the third pick in the 1984 NBA Draft and left a Hall of Famer.

Many have enjoyed at least one Bud Billiken Parade — a summer back-to-school tradition. Several notable deceased icons are buried in Blue Island’s Lincoln Cemetery and visiting their graves is a history lesson in itself. Read more.

Join our Chicagoland history Facebook group and follow us on Instagram for more from Chicago’s past.

Have an idea for Vintage Chicago Tribune? Share it with Ron Grossman and Marianne Mather at rgrossman@chicagotribune.com and mmather@chicagotribune.com.

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