Metro-East News

New barbecue stand opens in East St. Louis; Popeyes coming to Belleville, Collinsville

Good Heavens BBQ

From food truck to storefront: A look inside of Good Heavens BBQ’s first location
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From food truck to storefront: A look inside of Good Heavens BBQ’s first location

Five years after Kattie Goodwin fixed a barbecue feast for Grammy award-winning artist Fred Hammond, the East St. Louis native has fulfilled her dream of opening a brick-and-mortar location in the metro-east.

Goodwin served Hammond, a gospel singer from Detroit, long before she decided to step out on faith and open her own stand. He was in town for a concert, Goodwin recalled, standing outside of her new location in East St. Louis.

Located at 7610 State St. near Katie Harper-Wright Elementary School, Good Heavens BBQ already had a cult following before Goodwin decided to pursue the idea of opening a barbecue stand.

She had a catering company and operated from a food truck for two years until she heard a message from her pastor that inspired her to do more.

“My bishop taught a sermon called 'Launch out,'” Goodwin said. “That did something to us.”

Goodwin attends Power of Change Christian Church, where she heard the words of encouragement from Bishop Henry Phillips.

Not long after that, the business opened in East St. Louis where ribs, rib tips, pork steaks, chicken and pig snoots are on the menu.

A barbecue dinner from Good Heavens BBQ in East St. Louis. Cara Anthony

Goodwin was in high school when her mother taught her how to cook. The first meal she remembers making was smothered beef, potatoes and onions in the oven. Later, she learned how to make jelly cakes, a yellow cake dessert topped with jelly instead of icing or frosting.

“Older people, they didn’t splurge,” Goodwin said with a smile. “They used jelly as their icing. It’s really good.”

You can’t get jelly cake at Good Heavens, but you can get Goodwin’s famous peach cobbler. The cobbler is available every day, Goodwin said, along with another popular item called “monkey on a stick.”

For a dollar, Goodwin gives customers a piece of chicken that’s prepared the same way monkey on stick is cooked in the Philippines. Her husband, who served in the Navy, shared the unique cooking technique with Goodwin, and now customers can’t get enough of the item.

At Good Heavens almost everything is dipped in the family’s secret barbecue sauce with the exception of "monkey on stick."

“Most people say it doesn’t need it,” Goodwin said.

Kattie Goodwin and her brother, Charles Williams, operate Good Heavens BBQ in East St. Louis. Cara Anthony

The barbecue stand will offer funnel cakes, snow cones and other novelty treats this summer when school is out. Those items will be prepared by teenagers working alongside Goodwin in the kitchen.

Hiring young people is important to Good Heavens, Goodwin said.

She describes the city of East St. Louis as her “heart and passion.”

“I want the young people to know that they can be entrepreneurs, too,” Goodwin said. “My goal is to hire more and more young people. I want them to know that if I can do it, you can do it, too."

Good Heavens, which is named after Goodwin’s grandmother, Mary Heavens, and her last name, Goodwin, is open three days a week.

Want to go? The barbecue stand is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. From more information, call 618-489-1300.

Craving spicy fried chicken? Popeyes is coming to Belleville and Collinsville.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is ready to bring its spicy fried chicken to Belleville this fall and to Collinsville late this year or early next year.

In Belleville, Popeyes plans to build a new restaurant on a lot between Arby’s and the St. Louis Bread Co. in the Belleville Crossing shopping center at the intersection of Frank Scott Parkway and Illinois 15.

The Collinsville restaurant is planned for a lot next to the Jimmy John's in the 700 block of North Bluff Road.

After the restaurants in Belleville and Collinsville open, they would complement an existing Popeyes at 6011 N. Illinois St. in Fairview Heights.

Popeyes side.jpg
This is an artist’s rendering of the Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant under construction in the Belleville Crossing shopping center off Illinois 15. Provided

Belleville Popeyes

Construction on the Popeyes in Belleville is expected to begin in July with an anticipated opening in October, according to Tim Varley, a director of development for Sugar Land, Texas-based Z&H Foods, which is building the restaurant and already owns 227 Popeyes across the country.

Along with the Arby’s and St. Louis Bread Co., other restaurants in Belleville Crossing include Burger King, Qdoba, White Castle and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Popeyes is in the process of obtaining a building permit from Belleville. Last summer, the City Council approved the site plan and architectural plans for Popeyes.

“They’ve spent a good amount of time on rebranding,” said Edin Coralic, a St. Louis architect who is working on the Belleville project.

The 2,297-square-foot restaurant will have a decorative balcony to evoke memories of the balconies you see on buildings in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

“They’re pretty neat looking buildings,” Coralic said. “I think everybody’s going to like them. When you see the building, you know it’s a Popeyes.”

Varley said the developers do not anticipate seeking any tax incentives from Belleville.

“Our development program chose Belleville Crossing for its diverse businesses and potential community growth,” Varley said in an email.

The company bought the 1-acre lot in September for $640,000, according to St. Clair County records.

Popeyes previously was on West Main Street in Belleville, but that restaurant closed several years ago and 4204 Main Street Brewing Co. took over that site, which is adjacent to its restaurant and brewery.

Collinsville Popeyes

Construction on the Collinsville Popeyes is expected to take about four months and is scheduled to begin the fourth quarter this year or in the first quarter of next year on the leased lot, Varley said.

Coralic said he has been contracted to do the design work on the Collinsville Popeyes for Z&H Foods, along with others in Missouri.

Z&H Foods will not ask for tax incentives from Collinsville, Varley said. The company chose this site because of the "future growth potential of the area," he said in an email.

Varley declined to release the estimated value of the Belleville and Collinsville projects.