In 2009, Jeff Ridabock opened the vegan barbecue stand Homegrown Smoker with his family, after a career as a chef and meat seller. The concept was a hit, accruing lengthy lines for its smoked soy curls and tempeh ribs; Ridabock went on to open a food cart, then a deli in Goose Hollow and, eventually, a St. Johns restaurant. There, Ridabock wrapped vegan mac and cheese in burritos, stuffed vegan cheesesteaks in hoagie rolls, and fried hush puppies in a sunny Lombard space.
However, on December 3, the restaurant’s team announced Ridabock’s impending departure. “Many of you know our founder Jeff, and his wild origin story of transitioning
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