By: William Morris
January 19, 2018
A local restauranteur is planning to bring a second eatery downtown.
Elba Escobar, owner of Pupuseria La Paz on Bridge Street, is opening a new restaurant with a very different theme. Chicago BBQ Ribs Family Restaurant will be ready for business soon at 114 West Broadway Street. Her husband, Carlos, said there was an opening for something different that the Salvadoran cuisine at their current restaurant.
“To make the decision, I see, we need some good barbecue here in town, and I see we have a good opportunity to open the business here,” he said. “We have some good experience running a restaurant for a couple years.”
The restaurant is going in the location formerly occupied by Jambo Halal Market, which closed in December. Elba Escobar purchased the building in December 2016, and the couple decided the time was right to open their second restaurant.
“We got this opportunity here, and decided, it’s time to open the barbecue. It’s really hard to find a location that has everything,” Carlos Escobar said, citing the proximity to numerous offices as one of the key things that attracted them to the location.
The building, built in 1879, is the subject of a lawsuit with the neighboring Family Dollar over who bears responsibility for the shared wall between them. However, because the building was sold contract for deed, previous owner Allan Radel retains the legal deed and it is he who is named as defendant in the suit, which is scheduled for trial in April.
The menu for Chicago BBQ Ribs includes ribs, chicken, shrimp, salads, brisket, pulled pork and burgers. As of Wednesday, the interior remained largely vacant, but the new owners have an aggressive timetable. Escobar said new carpet and tables were on the way, and expects to be ready to open by the end of January.
“It looks like a long way to go, but we have it all ready,” he said.
While the Escobars prepare their new restaurant, the closure of Jambo Halal Market leaves a need in the community for halal meats and other specialty products in demand by the Somali community. Stepping in to fill the gap is the Sun Rise Grill, where proprietor Ibrahim Hussein is adding a mini-grocery section. He said the owners of Jambo offered him some of the equipment and leftover stock when the store closed.
“I have some space there, and I need something to take my business to the next level. I’ll take it,” he said.
In addition to his normal restaurant menu, Ibrahim now offers Somali coffee, spices, flour and other staples, and a range of halal meats.
“I have a lot of stuff you cannot get at Hy-Vee,” he said. “This what the Somalis need, the food that’s Somali authentic.”
William Morris got his start in the newspaper trade as a recurring editorial intern in Wisconsin and has been writing about business, government and crime at the Owatonna People’s Press since 2015. He now splits his time working with the newspaper and as Associate Editor for Forge.