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Barbecue joint packs them in for Lent

Beach Park-3/16/12 Fri./Herm's Bar-BQ
Herman Walker Owner Herm's Bar B Q Beach Park dressed as pig waves cars during lunch.
| Joe

Beach Park-3/16/12, Fri./Herm's Bar-BQ Herman Walker, Owner of Herm's Bar B Q in Beach Park dressed as a pig waves to cars during lunch. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media

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Herm’s Bar BQ

Catfish fillet dinner is $5.99 and includes bread, french fries, and homemade cole slaw

Large breaded and deep-fried shrimp is $8.99 for a half-pound; $14.99 for one pound. Includes homemade shrimp cocktail sauce.

39210 Sheridan Road, Beach Park

(847) 731-8880

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BEACH PARK — The sweet smell of barbecue has returned to Beach Park, thanks to the Walker family—a clan whose patriarch has been grilling up food for more than half a century.

And since Herm’s Bar BQ — named for Herman Walker — opened last September, rib tips and catfish fillets have been churning out for locals and travelers alike. On some days you will see a large pink pig or a giant chicken waving customers in.

“That was the best thing we did, to have those guys dress in the suits,” said Herman, a retired truck driver and a resident of Evanston.

His son Cary Walker, who lives here in Lake County, is a partner in the business. Cary and his wife Suyin work there daily while another son, Stephen, also helps out.

Cary said when the family took over the place, they renovated the inside to include new plumbing and electrical. They also installed a new hood system and brand new indoor barbecue pit.

“My wife is the creative one,” said Cary, referring to the orange-and-white signage and paint on the outside of the building.

It is the third place they’ve had over the years — including one in Waukegan and most recently in Antioch. Both of those places are closed.

Herman Walker, 71, was born and raised in Kentucky, and moved to Evanston in 1960. But it’s the Bluegrass State that lent the flavor for his current barbecue.

“I began cooking with my dad at church functions as a child,” said Herman. “We’d dig a big pit in the back, put a screen over it and bricks around it, and grill all kinds of good food.”

Now it’s Cary who does most of the cooking. “I guess you could say he got it through the genes,” said Herman.

Church functions are still big, as the place offers catering. Herm’s can handle all types of parties, and even large weddings, said Cary. There are several tables set up inside, and a flat-screen television for indoor dining pleasure, but the majority of sales are carry-outs.

Herman said people havecome from as far away as Kenosha and Racine to try his Kentucky-style barbecue. “The secret’s in the sauce,” he said. “People tell us every day we have the best sauce in the world.”

Rib tips are probably the biggest seller, right behind chicken wings. But don’t miss out on the hand-breaded catfish, which is also popular.

“Recently we had a pregnant woman, her husband and her in-laws come from Kenosha. She told her husband she just had to have our rib tips. So he brought her down here to get some. She loves them that much,” said Herman.

Cary said with Lent in full force, the place is packed on Fridays. “We are selling fish like crazy around here,” he said. “We just can’t seem to keep enough of it.”

Ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, and sides like deep fried mushrooms, greens and sweet potatoes are also offered.

Cary said he’s working on bringing some other items to the menu as well.



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