When James Andrews opened a hot-dog stand on this city’s rough West Side, he thought he was doing a community service by hiring ex-convicts. But some in the neighborhood think the name he chose — Felony Franks — is a crime.
An alderman [Robert Fioretti ]has refused Mr. Andrews permission to hang a new sign or build a drive-through lane. A pastor accused the restaurant owner, who is not an ex-convict, of “pimping out” the community. Members of a neighborhood association have vowed to stay away from Felony Franks until the name is changed and the décor — including paintings of cartoon hot dogs in prison stripes — is removed.
He spent more than $160,000 to refurbish a shuttered Polish-sausage stand on a busy corner in an area that’s a mix of new condos and stately old homes, subsidized housing and boarded-up storefronts. Mr. Andrews hired a dozen ex-cons to cook and serve frankfurters, sausages, steak sandwiches and french fries sliced from raw potatoes.
Customers enter a cramped space framed by cinder-block walls, with no tables or chairs. Near the entrance hangs a mock list of Miranda rights: “You have the right to remain hungry. Anything you order can and will be used to feed you here at Felony Franks.”
Servers standing behind bulletproof plastic — standard for stores in the neighborhood — ask customers, “Are you ready to plead your case?” Among other dishes, the menu lists the Misdemeanor Wiener and the Chain Gang Chili Dog. Side orders, such as fries, cole slaw and garlic bread, are dubbed “accomplices.” The restaurant’s slogan is, “Food so good it’s criminal.”
[Click to continue reading Slaw and Order: Hot-Dog Stand in Chicago Triggers a Frank Debate – WSJ.com]
In poor taste? Possibly, but seems like a pretty minor crime against humanity. Life is too short to become incensed over such silly details.
I’m with Kevin Jones, a Felony Franks employee:
Kevin Jones, 42, who works at Felony Franks, says he doesn’t feel exploited. “Working here allows me to provide for myself and my family,” says Mr. Jones, who says he used to sell crack and served two years’ probation for possession of a controlled substance. “I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 15 years and there’s gunfire every other day and you never hear anything about that, but all of a sudden there’s all this hoopla about a hot-dog stand?”