Evanston city officials will gather at Emerson and Green Bay this afternoon to honor restaurateur Hecky Powell for his commitment to providing jobs and training for young people.

They’ll unveil an honorary street sign at 1 p.m. designating the corner where he’s served up BBQ for decades as“Hecky Powell Way.”

After graduating fromNortheastern Illinois University,Powellbegan his career as a social services administrator, becomingexecutive director for Neighbors at Work/CEDA.

But over time he became discouraged that while the system helped people survive, itfailed to lift them from poverty.

During the same period, Powell bought a restaurant which led to a conversation withhis wife.

“Cheryl asked me if I was happy at the restaurant,” Powell says,“and I replied that I enjoyedhelping the kids learnresponsibility, social skills with customers and a way to make aliving. “I found that teaching kids how to fish, instead of giving them a fish, was reallyrewarding.”

After that Hecky’s became his full time employment and he never lookedback.

Hecky’s restaurant shot to fame when he brought William (the Fridge) Perry of theChicago Bears to the restaurant. In a year when all things Bears were publicized,Hecky’s relationship with The Fridge was the ‘sauce’ that made the restaurant a barbecuemecca.

Powell recently received the key to the city of Evanston for his longtime commitmentto hiring local teens and young adults. He was named Small Business Person of theYear by the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, is on the Board of Transplant Village, andhas received additional awards including the Northeastern Illinois University award forCommunity Service and the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association Award.

Powell also is a past president of the District 65 school board and serves aspresident of the Forrest Powell Foundation, named for his late father.

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2 Comments

    1. Only Council Member I could respect
      He always made sense even when it went against the ‘dole out the money to anyone and everyone’ crowd and was frank about issues that mattered instead of trying to be ‘politically correct.’
      He understood that work rather than welfare was the solution.

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