Williams Farm

After moving from New Orleans to Cleveland in 1923, Eugene Williams worked in a barrel factory until opening up his own fish market and grocery store. In 1934, another famous barbeque restauranteur in Cleveland surreptitiously referred to as “the Black King” dissolved his business during the Great Depression. Williams was offered to take over one of these restaurants at 48th Street and Central Avenue for $100. This turned out to be the beginning of Eugene Williams’ climb to restaurant success. Williams made a name for himself and became famous for his New Orleans style sauces and barbeque, ultimately earning himself the moniker “Hot Sauce” Williams. Williams Bar-B-Q established a number of locations, including in Pittsburgh and Detroit.

After finding lucrative success in the restaurant business and earning the title of “the barbeque king”, Williams purchased a 63-acre farm in Solon off Cochran Road. The farm provided the herbs, spices, cattle, and pigs for his famous barbeque. Despite the farm’s intended commercial use, Williams’s farm remained available for public use from its inception, and he encouraged its use for leisure. Eugene Williams was known throughout Cleveland for his penchant for new Cadillacs and expensive clothing and his luxurious lifestyle, earning him the additional title of the “country gentleman” or “gentleman farmer”. Following a series of heart attacks, strokes, and other health issues during the final years of his life, Williams’ illnesses contributed to him making careless business decisions and his finances suffered as a result. Both financial and health problems up plagued Williams until his death. The barbeque king of Cleveland passed away in 1958.

Eugene “Hot Sauce” Williams became famous for his Southern-style barbeque and earned many nicknames including the “King of Ribs and Shoulders.” | Source: Call & Post, September 14, 1939.
Williams Farm appears in this map detail | Plat Book of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Vol. 3 (Hopkins, 1950), Plate 34, Cleveland Public Library Map Collection

Resources

  • “Display Ad 16 — no Title.” Cleveland Call and Post (1934-1962), Dec 29, 1951.
  • “EUGENE WILLIAMS, “KING OF RIBS AND SHOULDERS”.” Cleveland Call and Post (1934-1962), Sep 14, 1939.
  • “”HOT SAUCE” WILLIAMS.” Cleveland Call and Post (1934-1962), Apr 11, 1942, p. 5.
  • King, S. “IS HE SMART, IS HE LUCKY, OR-BOTH?” Cleveland Call and Post (1934-1962), Sep 29, 1945.
  • Williams, Bob. “Bar-B-Q King, Broke, Ailing.” Cleveland Call and Post (1934-1962), Aug 23, 1958.
  • Williams, Bob. “‘Hot Sauce’ Williams Dies: Bar-B-Q King Suffers Fatal Heart Attack.” Cleveland Call and Post (1934-1962), Oct 25, 1958.
  • Siegrist, Fred and Stephanie, warranty deed to Eugene Williams, Solon Village, Cuyahoga County, August 1, 1944, Recorder’s Office book 5694, p. 447 (AFN194408010062).
  • Souther, Mark. “Williams, Eugene.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. https://case.edu/ech/articles/w/williams-eugene.
Cochran Rd., Solon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *