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.
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“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.
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.
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.