BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - — Family, friends, and residents remember Buffalo’s iconic BBQ owner of Lee’s Barbecue.
88-year-old, Lee Smith, passed away in the early mornings of Tuesday at his home.
“He was very young starting this business 58 years ago, and as you know, he was the oldest Black business in this community,” his brother-in-law, Finley Cooperwood, says.
Cooperwood says Lee was also known for more than just his famous BBQ.
“Lee’s bar which was here and that car wash over there, houses,” he says. “So this was really known as Lee’s Block.”
Many recall the taste of Lee’s food.
““Oh, the food was great, haha. Lee’s has the best BBQ in town,” says Michale Towns, a friend of Lee’s. “And I have relatives in the Falls, but people would come all-around to come to get Lee’s BBQ.”
But his legacy lives on.
“He had a special sauce, and right now today, you can’t get that sauce,” says Keith Ware, a resident. “I don’t care where you go. It was the sauce that he had.”
Others say Lee inspired many upcoming generations.
“To me as a young businessman, I went on to open my own insurance agency,” Towns says. “And a lot of the principles that he talked about being in business were truly profound.”
Towns and others say Lee’s takeout BBQ restaurant, along with his vibrant inspiration, will continue.
“He knew how to make some many BBQs,” Towns says. “Thank you.”
“In the words of Lee, Lee would like to thank the community for all of the 58 years of success that he had,” his brother-in-law says. “Because it was really the community that made him the man that he is with the business.”
It isn’t clear whether the restaurant will continue, but you can find Lee’s Barbecue at 1269 Fillmore Ave.