By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
For over 50 years Chicago residents have endured the long lines at South Side and south suburban eatery locations because the Hoagy sandwiches are well worth the wait. That kind of customer loyalty is what has kept Taurus Flavors founders and owners, Edward and Bernice Perkins, in the Chicago area all these years.
Last week their son announced that Mr. Perkins passed away on Dec. 3rd at the age of 79. “It’s with a heavy heart that we must announce the sudden passing of our father, founder, mentor, and friend, Edward Perkins,” read a message on the company’s website.
Perkins was an upstanding member of the city’s African American business community and was a fixture at Taurus stores around the city.
News of Perkins’ death shocked longtime customers, many of whom have been patronizing Taurus since they were kids. Ron Garrett said “… man, I have been coming in here since I was a kid and lived in Avalon Park. I mean you can’t drive down this street and not think of pulling over every time. You’ll look to see how long the line is and then say ‘aw forget it, it’s worth the wait,’” he said with a laugh. Garrett drives into Chicago to the Stony Island location from northwest Indiana.
Reflecting on his personal interactions with Perkins throughout the years, Garrett, now 59, commented that “I come in here at least once a week and I would see him either in, or around the property all the time. He would always speak and have a big smile on his face.”
A successful entrepreneur, Perkins was also dedicated to his employees he hired, trained, and provided livelihoods for many throughout the years.
It was through a tragedy in March of 2001 that the community really understood Perkins’ commitment to his Taurus family. One evening two masked men robbed the Stony Island store. During the robbery they murdered popular manager Queen Smith, a customer favorite who had worked at the shop for 30 years. Perkins put up some of his own money to help Smith’s family after her death.
The Crusader spoke with Perk- ins after Smith’s tragic death. He offered his condolences to the Smith family and said she was his most dedicated worker. When it was later discovered that one of the men convicted in the robbery was a former employee, Perkins was heartbroken, but said it was not an accurate reflection of the character of the many people he had employed throughout the years, and that the tragedy would not run him out of the community.
While the numbers of Taurus Flavors locations have decreased from a high of 13 at one time, customers still say it is one of the best places to eat in the Black community. For Perkins and his family that means a lot.
“The only way we’re able to stay here is because the people want us here,” Perkins told the Crusader back in 2005. “We love this community. This community has given me the ability to provide for my family and live out my dream.”
Edward Perkins leaves behind his wife and co-founder of Taurus Flavors, Bernice Perkins. The couple has four children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Along with the legacy of Taurus Flavors, Perkins leaves another enduring legacy of a strong belief in “Black Economics,” and service to his community.
Services took place at Third Baptist Church, 1551 W. 95th Street in Chicago on December 13, 2016.