Felony Franks Hot Dog Stand May Close

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.

  • Nita Nene Bigham


    • Huh


    • Budcat1

      What language is this?

  • good luck

    I’m sure this place would have been a boon in a more trendy neighborhood. I hope he can pull through, because it’s great that he’s giving x-con a second chance.

  • Bob Hamilton

    What is wrong with Fioreti? He should be doing everything he can to help this guy instead of hurting him. Then he does not have the courage to admit that he is blocking the sign permit. He blames other departments like the typical hack that he is.

  • Dan Walsh

    I think Fioretti is completely hypocritical on this issue.

  • Federico Sciammarella

    This is typical Bob saying he is for helping small business but really not. I told Jim that I would help him get his sign if elected. This is about creating jobs and opportunities for those that are not really given a chance. I applaud Jim in his efforts and stand behind him all the way.

    • TimeForChange

      You’ve got my vote!

  • DG

    Fioretti is an idiot and should help. Here’s someone trying to create a business and do soemthing positive and then you got Fioretti creating so much negativity for this guys business.

  • chi town joey

    have not eaten there yet but it HAS to be better Gold Coast Dawgs and all the hype, make your burgers fresh, not a big fan of re-heat ……………..

  • Mike

    I’ve driven past a few times and I always thought it was closed, so I guess he does make a point. Don’t know if I would eat there if it was open!?! But if he’s a tax paying business owner, give the guy a sign permit.

  • TryingToWrapThisAroundMyHead

    What! Alderman Fioretti should be fighting to keep this place open. Plus, with the track records of politicians lately he might need a place to work.

  • Doug

    This is bad news. I remember when the place opened. Great concept. If the food is good and the place was in our neighborhood, I’d be a regular. Hope he makes it.

  • Cola Joe

    And what WOULD Alderman Fioretti LIKE for this establishment to be called?!?!
    How about Hooters?!?!?! God help us if this place has to close because Fioretti is “still waiting” for THREE city departments (friends) to make up their minds. Employees of Felony Franks don’t have time to WAIT!
    If Felony Franks closes for lack of a sign that Mr. Andrews is PAYING FOR, let it be on Fioretti’s conscience!
    I don’t have a problem with my taxes paying unemployment for these guys…

  • Squirehogg

    I’ll take one chain gang chili, and one misdemeanor wiener to go.

  • brotherjones

    Love this place because the food is GREAT! Going to stop in more often now that I know they’re in trouble.

    The name of this joint doesn’t “glorify criminal conduct,” instead it raises awareness of Jim’s goal, which is to help ex-cons get back on their feet by providing them jobs. Stating the obvious: jobs aren’t easy to get with a criminal record.
    Fioretti should wise up and do everything in his power to help Felony’s survive and at the very least, do nothing to harm it. FF provides jobs to those that have difficulty getting them elsewhere, creates tax revenue, and serves up some mean food, but you don’t like the name? Get over yourself Alderman Rob.

  • TM

    I’ll take a first degree murder frankfurter please.

  • bobzaguy

    Isn’t there a newspaper or TV station that gets on the phone for this type of situation?
    There used to be, and this shows there still should be.

  • HelpMyThisGuyOut

    The owner has a right to his business and has a great concept to hire only ex-offenders. However, from a marketing perspective its tough for his business to thrive based on the images and choice of words. Using more positive language and a more uplifting graphics would do wonders for this shop. Perpetuating unfavorable Black images may bring short term success but little long term gain for the people in the community and Blacks in general. He needs a copy of BRAINWASHED by Tom Burrell to really understand what he’s doing my marketing his product/service this way.

  • Jim

    What a great system, where whether you can have a sign for your business or not requires that you submit to the will of the petty tyrant alderman.

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