Harold Ward opens Jerk Chicken Restaurant (Chicago Heights) – Newly opened Noonie’s Famous Jerk & Fried Chicken is bright and welcoming when you walk in. Originally open in Minnesota, Harold Ward, the owner, has brought his distinctive jerk chicken recipe to Chicago’s South Suburbs. This restaurant has set itself apart by offering both jerk chicken as well as Harold’s fried chicken. The menu has something for everybody. In addition to jerk chicken and the usual staples of tilapia, curry goat, oxtails, and shrimp, Noonie’s also servers red snapper, salmon, salads, and wraps, as well as some vegetarian options. They offer some Southern staples as options for their dinners including red beans & rice, mac & cheese, yams, and green beans, along with callaloo and plantains. On the Harold’s side, Ward serves fried chicken and catfish, perch, shrimp and tilapia along with some hard-to-find favorites such as okra, gizzards, and livers. Noonie’s offers both carry out and catering options. Ward mentioned that the most popular items on the menu are the fried catfish and the Jerk catfish. Miss Lorraine, a faithful customer, gave Noonie’s a glowing review and said that the food is “really good, and you get generous portions at a great price.”
Owner Harold “Noonie G” Ward has a storied past. As a young man, he attended Southern Illinois University and played football there. Unfortunately, he had to return to Chicago prior to finishing his degree in order to help his mother, a school teacher, after his father passed away. His mother was the first one to open a restaurant. It was this experience that got him interested in owning and operating restaurants. Life took him down some twists and turns that led to involvement with gangs. At one point, he was a high ranking member of the Gangster Disciples. He was able to transition out of that lifestyle and worked with former President Barack Obama during the time that Obama was doing community organizing in the Altgeld Gardens, where Noonie is from. From there, Noonie worked in politics and eventually came full circle, back to the restaurant business.
Lately, his focus has been on finding ways to give back to the youth, and he wants to build a chain of restaurants that he can leave for his children. “It’s all about leaving a legacy,” he said. He wants to help the youth avoid some of the missteps that he made in the past. Ward mentioned that oftentimes, disadvantaged youth can get caught up in destructive generational cycles. He believes that these cycles can be broken by focusing on children both individually and collectively, and showing genuine interest in their thoughts, their views, and their dreams. A man of faith, Noonie is confident that these small steps can create a sense of self-worth and self-respect in young people. He recently partnered with DTLR to provide backpacks, haircuts, and braids for neighborhood children as they prepare to head back to school. Noonie is certain that self-respect is key to changing a culture of violence that permeates our streets and neighborhoods. His perspective is that when people don’t have any respect for themselves, then they are not able to treat others with respect.
This passion for the community has created opportunities for Noonie to work with artists such as Common, Kanye West, Trey Songz, Cee-Lo, T.I., Diddy, and many others. He is the author of several books that are geared toward making a positive impact on the youth. He also has a movie that will be released soon, as well as a book that will feature free bonus music featuring a collaboration with Trey Songz and Kanye West.
With all of these great things on the horizon, Noonie still wants to make sure that every person that stops by the restaurant enjoys the food and is encouraged to come back. Harold Noonie’s Famous Jerk & Fried Chicken is located at 121 W. Joe Orr Road, Chicago Heights, IL 60411. They are open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm. They are closed on Tuesday and Sunday. Feel free to call ahead to place your order, you can reach them at 708-753-600
Harold Ward opens Jerk Chicken Restaurant