Former soul food restaurant owner succumbs to cancer

City-_Army_and_Lous_owner_dies.jpgDolores Jean Grey Reynolds

Dolores Jean Grey Reynolds, a Chicago businesswoman and the long-time owner and operator of the celebrated Army & Lou’s soul food restaurant on Chicago’s South Side, died April 24 in Detroit after a three-month battle with esophageal cancer.

Funeral services will be held May 4 at 11 a.m. at True Believers Missionary Baptist Church, 7801 S. Wolcott Ave. in Chicago. The service will be preceded at 10 a.m. by a wake at the church. Burial will immediately follow the service.

Reynolds was a classic Chicago success story. Born in Blytheville, Arkansas, she was brought to Chicago as a child by her parents, Mary L. Grey and the late Horace Noel Grey. One of seven children, she graduated from Calumet High School and from Roosevelt University – both in Chicago. She earned a master’s degree in psychology from the university.

Reynolds entered the corporate world as an executive at Jewel Food Corporation. She later became the vice president of Marketing at Preferred Meal Systems and thereafter launched her own business, Excel Services, Inc., a food service firm.  In the early ‘90s Reynolds bought Army & Lou’s Restaurant on East 75th Street, the legendary dining spot established in 1945 and known widely as the favorite restaurant of the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington.

Its clientele included such luminaries as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., entertainer Smokey Robinson and many political figures. President-elect Barack Obama and his advisers met there regularly during the presidential transition of 2008-2009. Reynolds operated and personally managed the restaurant until she sold it in 2010.

Most recently, Reynolds has served as the chief financial officer of White House Services, a health care firm headquartered in West Bloomfield, Michigan.