CHICAGO (CBS) — Felony Franks — the Oak Park hot dog joint that employed ex-convicts — has closed, and its owner still wants to help his employees find new jobs.
“We had seven employees when we closed the doors, and what’s going to happen to them is what keeps me up at night,” Felony Franks owner Deno Andrews said.
Andrews opened Felony Franks in Oak Park in February of 2015. He said he closed the restaurant last week, because the cost of doing business just got too expensive.
Like the original shop in Chicago, Felony Franks featured a menu of food with cheeky names like Misdemeanor Wiener, Parolish, Big House Beef, Cell Mates, Breakout Steakburgers, and Felony Fries
Andrews said he’s worried what will happen to his employees if they can’t find new jobs soon.
“In Chicago, ex-offenders have a rate of recidivism that’s 54 percent after three years. So that means that after three years, more than half of people coming out of prison go back to prison,” Andrews said. “In our program, since day one, we have a zero percent recidivism rate. Nobody’s gone back to prison. So I fear for what might happen to my staff if I can’t place them in meaningful work in the next month or two.”
Andrews’ father ran the original Felony Franks on Chicago’s West Side from 2009 until 2012. Jim Andrews frequently clashed with then-Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), who said it was in bad taste to open a hot dog stand that mocked crime in a neighborhood blighted by it.
Fioretti tried to block the hot dog stand from putting up a sign along Western Avenue, but Felony Franks took the fight to court, and the city decided to settle, allowing the sign with the eatery’s slogan “Food so good, it’s criminal.”
The original Felony Franks closed shop less than a year after winning that fight for a sign, after a nearby liquor store began driving away customers.