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Elkhart to get a double dose of Bill's Bar-B-Que

Elkhart’s oldest barbecue joint is adding a second location. Bill’s Bar-B-Que plans to open in the former Long John Silver’s, 2426 Benham Ave., Elkhart.

“We’re in the early stages,” said Will Lee, who owns and operates the barbecue restaurant with his family.

He said they plan to “continue the tradition of good barbecue” at a second location, but they also want a larger menu with macaroni and cheese, baked beans and cornbread muffins.

The 1592 W. Franklin St. location opened in 1988. It closed in 2005 and reopened in 2009.

Business is steady at the Franklin Street location, which has no seating. It’s rebounded after the construction on Nappanee Street, he said. Hours recently expanded to 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, Lee said.

He’s still working on logistics, but he may use the barbecue pit at the Franklin Street location to supply the Benham Avenue restaurant.

A sign is in front of the new restaurant, but a lot of work needs to be done on the building Bill’s is leasing. He’s hoping to open at the end of June, he said.

In 2000, the Lees announced they planned to open in Dunlap in a former Taco Bell. That never happened, but a location on Cassopolis Street was open for a time. Other restaurants opening in the area and other factors led to that closing, Lee said.

Before the second Bill’s opens, Greater Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, 1829 Oakland Ave., will have its first barbecue sale of the year. The church will sell barbecue starting at 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday, May 16 and 17. Tickets will be given away on the Flavor 574’s Facebook and Twitter.

Marshall V. King is managing editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at 574-296-5805,, on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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