'An exciting addition': Heaven's Barbecue on Earth opens in Wheeling
A family-owned and -operated barbecue joint with ties to Chicago's South Side has opened in a long-vacant Wheeling storefront.
The folks at Heaven's Barbecue on Earth are serving ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken and much more in the Arlington Club Commons shopping center at 1 Huntington Drive.
Heaven's Barbecue is owned by Deerfield resident Chris Jordan Sr. and his wife, Oneko. Chris Jordan spends most of his time in the kitchen with pitmaster Tony Price, while Oneko Jordan handles just about any job that doesn't involve cooking.
"I'm not really a cook," she said. "Once (our kids) were out of the house, I retired from cooking."
Son Chris Jordan Jr. is the general manager and works the counter, telling patrons about the dishes on the large menu board behind the cash register.
"He's our Vanna White," Oneko Jordan said, referring to the famed "Wheel of Fortune" hostess and letter turner.
Chris Jr.'s wife, Anjelica, bakes the desserts, which include butter cookies, cheesecakes, pound cake and cupcakes.
The restaurant was 59-year-old Chris Jordan Sr.'s brainchild. After spending his adulthood working in warehouse operations, Jordan decided to turn his lifelong loves of barbecue and cooking into a new career.
Jordan learned to cook as a child on the South Side, picking up techniques from his mom and stepdad.
"It was always a passion in me, but it was hidden," Jordan confessed.
Jordan hasn't forgotten that early inspiration. A menu item called Shirley's fried chicken wings bears his mom's name and uses a family seasoning recipe.
"People love them," Oneko Jordan said.
Heaven's Barbecue opened May 12 in a roughly 3,500-square-foot corner space last occupied by I Am Siam, which closed in 2016. Before that, it was an IHOP.
There's no question it's a barbecue restaurant now. Poster-sized photographs of baby back ribs, chicken, brisket, pulled pork and desserts decorate the dining room's light-blue walls.
Jordan Sr. said the name for the place came in a divine vision. He said he wants people to find faith, love and peace in his restaurant.
"And to enjoy ... heavenly food," he said.
Smoked brisket has been the restaurant's best-selling entree. More dishes will be added to the menu based on requests from customers, the Jordans said.
"We love our food, and we love our community," said Chris Jordan Jr., who lives in Waukegan.
Heaven's Barbecue already has developed a following of regulars. Wheeling resident Andy Kistler is among them.
"When I saw this under construction, I was so excited," Kistler said during a lunchtime visit Thursday. "I'm a big fan of barbecue."
Village Manager Jon Sfondilis was among the restaurant's first customers, dining there during opening week with some co-workers.
"Heaven's Barbecue is an exciting addition to the list of independent restaurants offered within the Wheeling community," Sfondilis said.
Heaven's Barbecue offers dine-in meals, takeout service and catering. It's open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Saturday's from noon to 8 p.m.
For more, call (847) 777-1018 or visit heavensbarbecueonearth.com