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updated: 9/14/2021 6:50 PM

‘It’s about time’: Mundelein’s Smokin’ BBQ on 45 to expand

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A takeout-only barbecue restaurant on the edge of downtown Mundelein is expanding to offer sit-down service -- and the owners are getting a financial boost from the village to do it.

Open since March 2020 at 428 N. Lake St. in the Hawley Lake Plaza, Smokin' BBQ on 45 is taking over a vacant, adjacent storefront that last was a Verizon Wireless store. After an interior renovation, the space will be equipped with tables and chairs for customers craving Smokin' BBQ's ribs, turkey legs, hot links or other succulent dishes.

In an email, owners Danita and Lee Ward said they hope to begin construction in October. They don't have a target opening date for the seating area.

On Monday, the village board agreed to give Smokin' BBQ $14,630 to help fund the renovation. The money will come from Mundelein's Business Incentive Grant program.

Through that program, awards of up to $25,000 are available for interior improvements, up to $25,000 for exterior improvements and up to $5,000 for sign improvements. Instead of getting the grant up front, business owners are reimbursed for expenses.

Grants cover up to half the cost of an improvement project. The work at Smokin' BBQ is expected to cost the Wards $29,260, documents indicate.

The Wards plan to build new bathrooms for the seating area and create a pass-through between the new and existing spaces. Other interior renovations are coming, too.

Barbecue lovers on the village board celebrated the project Monday.

"I'm excited for the build out and to have a place to sit and eat," Trustee Erich Schwenk said.

Trustee Kerston Russell elicited laughs from the audience when he said, "It's about time."

Mundelein has awarded more than $604,000 to dozens of businesses through the grant program. So far this fiscal year, the board has approved nearly $93,000 for five businesses, Village Administrator Eric Guenther said.

The program has a $125,000 budget this year.

This is the second Mundelein business grant for Smokin' BBQ. Ahead of its launch, the restaurant was awarded a $4,503 grant to improve the kitchen's plumbing, electrical system and ventilation hood.

The restaurant is open Fridays through Sundays, and that will continue after the seating area opens, the Wards said.