Sunday, November 1, 2020

Was the "Original Sally's Bar-B-Q Restaurant" on Western Avenue in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood, North or South of Devon Avenue?

After exhaustive research, including old Chicago telephone books, I have verified Sally's Bar-B-Q Restaurants' dates and address history.

"Sally's Bar-B-Q Restaurant" opened about 1935 at 3541 West Ogden Avenue in Chicago (Telephone: ROckwell 2-0716). While on Ogden Avenue, they actually bottled and sold their "Alabama Kum-Back Sauce" in the 1930s and 40s.
Sally (right) with her husband Benny and her sister Irene (left). Irene worked as a hostess and cashier. Their brother Harry (not pictured) managed the kitchen.
Sally's opened their second restaurant and named it "The Original Sally's Bar-B-Q" in 1954 at 6445 North Western Avenue, Chicago (Telephone: AMbassador 2-8800).
Sally's on Western moved south of Devon Avenue to 6335 North Western Avenue in 1966, in the building that was originally the Town Pump Restaurant & Nightclub in the 1940s and 50s. validated.

Their baby back ribs were hickory, smoked over charcoal, and covered with Sally's "Alabama Kum-Back Sauce." The sauce was SO secret that Sally would mix up the spices in her little office, putting the spices in Ziploc bags (available c.1970), then hand the bags to her brother Harry, who managed the kitchen. When asked, he said even HE didn't know what spices went into the sauce, except for the tomato sauce, vinegar, and molasses. Sadly, Sally took the Bar-B-Q spice recipe to her grave.
The Original Sally's Bar-B-Q, 6335 North Western Avenue, Chicago.
The Original Sally's Bar-B-Q restaurant was closed in 1976.

The "Devon-North Town State Bank" originally opened at 2345 West Devon Avenue in June of 1945. A new building was constructed and, in 1966, opened at 6445 North Western Avenue, the same address as the first Original Sally's Bar-B-Q Restaurant. The bank rebranded itself as The Devon Bank.
"Sally's Stage" (unrelated to Sally's Bar-B-Q) opened in 1977 at 6335 North Western Avenue by the Bortz brothers, Joe and Mike.
Telephone: ROgers park 4-9090
The entertainment featured a stream of comics, dancers, singers, magicians, and even acrobats. Sally's hostesses wore roller skates. The theater pipe organ would emerge from a pit below the stage, and the organist would lead a singalong to words posted on a drop-down screen or accompany a silent movie. The waitresses would hop onstage to sing. One night a week was amateur night when anyone with a semblance of talent—even if that talent existed only in the mind of the performer—could take the stage. 
Looking North on Western Avenue towards Devon Avenue.
Note the wooden roller skating floor.
Sally's Stage opened a second location in Lombard, Illinois, in 1979. The Lombard location became Blue Suede Shoes in 1983 and was sold in 1986.
Sally's Stage Full Slab of Baby Back Rib Dinner.
According to a Chicago Tribune article dated April 26, 1985, Sally's Stage was still going strong, with the hostesses on skates, etc. 

Sally's Stage was closed in 1993.

Personally, the Original Sally's Bar-B-Q had the best BBQ sauce... EVER, in my opinion, and other people agree. The Babyback Ribs were prepared 'old school' where you had to bite the meat off the rib. Many attempts to reproduce  Sally's  "Alabama Kum-Back Sauce" recipe have come up short. 

Please leave a comment below about your experience with either the Original Sally's Bar-B-Q, Sally's Stage, or both. 

Copyright © 2020 Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. All rights reserved.


  1. My dad use to work for Sally's on Ogden, he was telling me about it. He is 94 years old and was telling me stories of working there. He use to peel potatoes for them and mix the sauce that was already prepared, he would just mix it.

  2. The BBQ Pit in Highland Park claims that they have the recipe for Sally's sauce. Been there many times and it sure taste like Sally's

  3. I played my Appalachian dulcimer once at amateur night at Sally's Stage in 1977 or 1978. I was so nervous that I didn't play very well. They gave me a cheeseburger dinner as payment. That was the only time I ever performed publicy for pay. Great memory, though!

  4. I worked there in the early 70's. I was part of the act that performed every Thursday night - Tap, Jazz and even a Tap number on Roller skates. I still have the B&W Video.

    1. You worked at Sally Stage. The Original Sally's Bar-B-Q Restaurant, before Sally's Stage did not have entertainment.

  5. I dined at Sally's BBQ (and later Sally's Stage) from the '50s on. Also Town Pump, owned by my cousins (the Nopar and Feldman families). The 6335 N. Western storefront that would become Sally's was previously occupied by the Estee Sleep Shop (I once bought a headboard there). The former location of Town Pump (one door to the north) became Mongolian House and then Sultan Palace. Hanmi Bank later acquired and demolished both buildings.


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