Willie Ray’s Q Shack is expanding, a second location will open soon

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Willie Fairley, in front of Willie Ray’s Q Shack, 288 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids. — Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

Willie Fairley is opening a second location of his restaurant Willie Ray’s Q Shack.

Fairley offered a sneak peek of the new location in a video he posted on Facebook. The second location will be at 266 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE, which is just a couple of minutes away from the first location at 288 Blairs Ferry Rd NE.

Fairley said there’s no opening date “just yet,” but he told KWWL earlier this month that the second location should be ready in about a month.

Fairley, who was born and raised in Mississippi, has been in Cedar Rapids for 18 years. Wanting to be his own boss, he launched Willie Ray’s Q Shack in July 2019, utilizing the barbecue expertise he’d honed over the years. Various smoked meats and sides are on the menu, along with daily specials.

His barbecue restaurant serves food through its drive-up and walk-up windows. The second location will be a small sit-down restaurant.

Following the Aug. 10 derecho, Fairley was giving out hundreds of free meals daily. Word of mouth and social media posts quickly turned Fairley into a local celebrity.

News of his food relief efforts led to interviews with local media, as well as CNN. In late September, it was announced that Willie Ray’s Q Shack won a $25,000 award as part of the Discover Eat it Forward initiative.

“I love doing this,” Fairley told Little Village last August. “You see some people come in with tears in their eyes and you put a smile on their face. I’ve just never been in a position to be able to do that for someone, and it’s just such a great feeling on the inside.”

Most recently, Fairley was featured on Will Smith’s Snapchat show “Will from Home.” Smith highlighted and praised Fairley’s efforts following the derecho.

“Willie is living proof that the universe will reward selfless acts of kindness,” Smith said.

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