History of Hecky’s Barbecue
Hecky’s Barbecue opened on October 13, 1983 on the northwest corner of Emerson Street and Green Bay Road where it is still located today. Hecky opened the restaurant with only $100.00 in the cash register.
Hecky’s quickly became famous for its barbecued foods, including ribs, rib tips, and chicken, as well as for the barbecue sauce. “It’s the Sauce” is the restaurant motto. The restaurant recipes come from his New Orleans ‘Creole’ grandmother, who passed them down to his mother and then to him.
From its inception, Hecky’s Barbecue has always been more than a carry-out barbecue restaurant. Hecky’s Barbecue is an Evanston institution due to the business acumen and philanthropic endeavors of its owners, Hecky Powell and his wife, Cheryl. Coming from social service backgrounds, the couple believe in giving back to the community as a part of the business plan. Hecky’s Barbecue has sponsored numerous community groups and organizations throughout its history. Additionally, Hecky hires local young people and provides them with the necessary skills and training to pursue higher level customer service positions.
In 1994, Hecky established the Forrest E. Powell Foundation to honor his late father who espoused the following three values: family, community, and spirituality. The foundation provides scholarships for young people seeking technical training and honors local residents whose lives espouse the values Forrest Powell taught him. In June 2016, Hecky founded the Work Ethic (WE) program as a part of the foundation to formalize the vocational training and employment opportunities available to Evanston Township High School students.
In 2015, Hecky debuted the restaurant’s newest product, Juneteenth Strawberry soda. Juneteenth is the name given to the celebration of the end of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865. Texas was the last state to end slavery in the U.S. Traditional Juneteenth celebrations include ‘red’ colored foods, including barbecue, red velvet cake and red beans and rice. Hecky developed Juneteenth Strawberry soda to honor his paternal great grandfather who was born into slavery in Missouri.
Hecky’s Barbecue has expanded from one carry-out restaurant to include catering, wholesale, and retail divisions.