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Felony Franks Hot Dog Stand May Close

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Felony Franks

Felony Franks, 229 S. Western Ave. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) – The hot dog stand on the West Side called Felony Franks – where the owner hires only ex-offenders – may be closing.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller reports, Felony Franks, 229 S. Western Ave., had been Jim Andrews’ dream. Andrews’ hot dog stand serves up the Misdemeanor Wiener, and only ex-felons work there.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller reports

Now, a year and a half after he opened his doors, Andrews says business could be better.

“If business doesn’t come up a little bit — it has already put a financial burden on me — I possibly may have to close it,” Andrews said.

Andrews says he hired nine ex-offenders. He says he had to lay off three of them.

Felony Franks features a mural of freshly painted wieners donning prison garb and a ball and chain, proclaiming “food so good it’s criminal.”

Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) has objected to the theme of the hot dog stand from the beginning. Speaking to CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole as Felony Franks prepared to open in 2009, Fioretti said in a neighborhood that’s been blighted by crime, the concept is definitely in poor taste.

“We in this city do not need to glorify criminal conduct,” Fioretti said. “We need to help every ex-offender get a job.”

So far, Fioretti hasn’t let Andrews have a permit for a sign to hang outside. A sign frame swings empty over the hot dog stand.

Andrews won’t say Fioretti has helped kill the business, but, Andrews said, “he’s part of it by not issuing us a sign permit.”

Andrews said the sign could improve business, but as it is now, the empty sign frame “gives it the impression that it’s closed.”

“If (Fioretti) going to hold up a business from succeeding or reaching its full potential, shame on him,” Andrews said.

A spokesman for Fioretti says he is still waiting for three city departments to weigh in regarding the sign.

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