Friday, December 2, 2011

60-Year-Old Harlem Rib Joint That Served the Beatles Fights to Stay Afloat

60-Year-Old Harlem Rib Joint That Served the Beatles Fights to Stay Afloat

December 1, 2011 6:51am | By Jeff Mays, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

click to see all pictures (16 photos)

Sherann Grinan is trying to raise $15,000 to reopen Sherman's Barbecue in Harlem which was shuttered because of health violations. Ronnie Spector took the Beatles to eat at Sherman's Barbecue. (DNAinfo/Jeff Mays)

HARLEM — When The Beatles invaded the United States in 1964, Ronnie Spector of the girls group the Ronettes took them to Sherman's Barbecue in Harlem.

Its owner, the late Sherman Hibbitt, was known as the "unofficial mayor of Harlem" and had met and taken pictures with President Harry Truman and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, among others.

"I love Sherman's because it was a half a block from where I lived and my father loved it and it was open late. I loved their spaghetti," Spector told DNAinfo in an interview. "It was exciting going to Sherman's when they had the jukebox and the picture of Mr. Sherman with the presidents hanging on the wall in the 50's. It made you feel like somebody."


The chain, which opened in 1948, once had five locations in Harlem, each selling only nine items. Among them are the pork barbecue ribs, pigs feet and barbecue chicken. The restaurant's famous spaghetti is even made with barbecue sauce.

Now, 63 years after opening, Sherman's is down to one takeout-only location on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard between West 145th and 146th streets. But that location has been shuttered since August because of health violations. Hibbitt's daughter and owner Sherann Grinan is desperately trying to raise $15,000 to pay the fines and re-open what some consider to be one of Harlem's hidden treasures.

"In my heart, I'm like we have to reopen," said Grinan, 55, after ticking off the list of celebrities who had visited Sherman's.

The list includes the late Percy Sutton, who was Malcolm X's lawyer and the city's highest ever elected black official when he became Manhattan Borough President in 1966. Music greats like the Isley Brothers and the Sugar Hill Gang also ate there.

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