One of the country’s longest-running Black-owned gay bars wants you to know it has a sister business… for pizza lovers.
Jamal Junior is the owner of Jeffrey Pub in Chicago’s Southside. The pub was established in the 1960s and has stayed a staple to the city’s queer Black community. For Jamal Junior, a Chicago native, it’s been an honor to support his community by upholding the establishment. He does so by not only running the bar but also holding food drives, toy drives, and other community support initiatives.
“Everytime I see them, they say: ‘Hey, man. Thank you for keeping this place open for us,’” Junior told Block Club Chicago in June. “Because a lot of a lot of them don’t feel comfortable in other places. And they feel that they’re not respected in other communities. But I try to let them know this is a safe haven for them.”
But now, Junior is looking to serve even more people. And even better, he’s looking to serve them his family’s pizza recipe too. Junior is putting more of his focus on the Williams Inn Pizza and Sports Bar in Chicago’s South Loop. The restaurant is named after a former business run by his grandmother, the William’s Inn Pizza. It’s there that Jamal Junior learned about running a business. And it’s also there that he learned how to cook a delicious pizza pie.
“I was, like, the grandchild she kept around,” Junior said. “I’d get out of school. She’d pick me up. If she had to make a business run, I was with her.”
According to WGN9, Junior’s latest restaurant has been receiving a lot of press in the past month. This is, in part, because Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who is openly gay, visited the business during her re-election campaign trail. She also gave Jamal Junior a shout-out on her Instagram page.
“With roots that stretch back to the 1960s, the Jeffrey Pub has served as a safe haven for countless LGBTQ+ residents in the South Shore community and beyond.” She wrote. “It proves that our city’s LGBTQ+ communities stretch beyond Boystown and Lakeview and enrich each and every one of our 77 neighborhoods.”
But is the newer establishment LGBTQ-inclusive? It’s not specifically a gay bar, but Jamal Junior has continued to insist that the business be as inclusive as possible.
“One reason we chose the south loop is because it is a very diverse community we want everyone to be comfortable,” he said.