Barbecue sauce has lucrative market with Chicago flavor

National sauce-makers are based here, and Bucktown niche producer Lillie’s Q charges a premium

Lillie’s Q bottles its “Smoky” barbecue sauce in its restaurant at 1856 W. North Ave. (Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / June 17, 2013)

By Mugambi Mutegi
Published in Chicago Tribune in July 2, 2013
 In the basement of Lillie’s Q restaurant, Brian Musinski dragged a 55-gallon drum of barbecue sauce to a workstation, where a machine sucked out the sauce and deposited it into 16-ounce bottles that he held with gloved hands.
Musinski then sealed, labeled and dipped the tops of each bottle in molten wax and packed most of them in cardboard boxes for distribution to grocery stores in 15 states. Some, however, will wind up on the tables upstairs at the recently renovated Bucktown restaurant where Musinski, 36, is general manager.

Sales of barbecue sauce tend to reflect not only the sweet and sour cultural tastes of America, but also the strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. economy. As the economy improves and more people eat out, barbecue restaurants like Lillie Q’s expect to benefit, but overall bottled barbecue sauce sales growth is forecast to be relatively modest.