A new hot dog stand is scheduled to open soon on the Near West side: it’s called Felony Franks and, as seems to be a requirement with hot dog stands these days, there’s a gimmick. Hot Doug’s is haute, Weiner’s Circle is abusive, and Weiner & Still Champion will deep-fry anything. So what’s Felony Franks up to? It’ll be staffed by rehabilitated felons. Jim Andrews, the restaurant’s owner, is hiring ex-offenders in large part out of sympathy for the fact that the requirement to disclose their criminal history makes it difficult for them to find jobs.
Not surprisingly, this isn’t going over easily with all of the neighbors: Alderman Bob Fioretti says he “won’t make it easy” for Felony Franks to open, and there are complaints from the neighbors that Felony Franks is on track to open too close to two area high schools.
There’s also the worry that the name and logo (a hot dog behind bars) will glorify the criminal lifestyle: “Any business that wants to do business in the area should always think of having a positive impact,” said area resident Monica Brown. Andrews points out that restaurants like Hooter’s and Addiction aren’t considered prohibitively offensive — and it’s worth noting that those restaurants don’t operate in service of individuals who need help getting their lives back together — the plan is for half of the Felony Franks’ profits to be distributed among employees, and the other half to go to the non-profit Rescue Foundation, which Andrews founded to assist ex-offenders. Plus, Andrews has some killer (’scuse us) slogans worked up: “The Misdemeanor Weiner,” for one. Or “Food So Good It’s Criminal.”