Requiem for a 'Soul Queen'

March 29, 2010

(photo by Lee Bey)
(photo by Lee Bey)

The tacked-on banner above the entry vestibule of the Soul Queen restaurant reads "We're Open!"

But they are not.‚  And they won't be again. The legendary restaurant on the west edge of‚ Chicago's Pill Hill neighborhood‚ has been closed since its founder, Helen C. Maybell Anglin, died last September at age 80.

Soul Queen was a successful soul food‚ restaurant at 2200 S. Michigan.‚ Anglin opened‚ this‚ larger and more posh second location in 1975 at 9031 S. Stony Island‚ in‚ the‚ modernist‚ former‚ Jennie's Restaurant, built in 1961.‚ The Michigan avenue restaurant was later‚ closed.

Soul Queen's soul food buffet was good--and inexpensive. Regular folk dined in gold booths beneath big chandeliers--and so did luminaries like the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Muhammad Ali and others.‚  And in the Southeast Side neighborhoods were I grew up, the Soul Queen's proud logo was as recognizable as that of Pepsi Cola's:


(photo by Lee Bey)


(photo by Lee Bey)

(photo by Lee Bey)
(photo by Lee Bey) 

(photo by Lee Bey)
(photo by Lee Bey)

(photo by Lee Bey)
(photo by Lee Bey)

Soul‚ Queen's later years‚ were rocky ones. The restaurant was frequently cited--and often closed--for‚ health code violations in 2007 and 2008. The final blow was Anglin's‚ death in 2009. Family members told the Chicago Defender then that the restaurant's license was not transferable, meaning the establishment would close for good.

"Soul Queen was her legacy, and that is how she wants to be remembered," one of Anglin's daughters told the Defender. "I guess you can say it will be buried with her."

The building's for sale. Asking price: $749,900.