Reporting Bob Roberts
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EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) — Now that Felony Franks has shut down on Chicago’s West Side, its owner wants to take the store to the gritty West Side of Evanston.
But as WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, the reception at a public hearing Thursday night on the proposed hot dog stand was not overly warm.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports
Owner Jim Andrews said he won’t change the name if allowed to relocate to a shopping mall on the 1900 block of Dempster Street, and said he wants to help Evanston’s ex-offenders find work.
“We’re interested in regentrification of human beings — rebuilding lives,” he said.
But some residents countered that the store’s name, and its entrees, which include the “misdemeanor wiener,” are an especially bad message to send to teens who attend nearby Evanston Township High School.
“To allow a business to come in using those kinds of terms, we should use positive terms, to encourage, and to motivate those who distance themselves from those kinds of activities and behaviors,” said one speaker.
Successful in Evanston or not, the name and menu will live on — elsewhere. Andrews said he expects to sign a franchise agreement Monday that will put as many as six Felony Franks food trucks on the streets of Los Angeles, using the same menu and hiring ex-offenders as employees.
He first opened Felony Franks in 2009, over the objections of Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd), who said it was in bad taste to open a hot dog stand that mocked crime in a neighborhood that has been blighted by it.
When Felony Franks closed, plans to reopen were already in the works. Larry Musgrave, 64, who himself spent a year in prison in Pennsylvania in the late 1980s for embezzlement, began working last June on getting investors to start a new Felony Franks to employ and train ex-offenders.
Musgrave said Andrews would be a partner in the new venture, which at the time he said would likely be located on Chicago’s Northwest Side.