DeathMatch: East Pilsen vs. Express Grill

Bleargh, it’s a Monday. Not only is it a Monday, but it’s the first Monday we’re back in the office after being decked by some sort of horrible food-borne illness for the better part of an unexpected three-day-weekend (holla, Friday sick day!), and we face our email inbox of 357 messages with no small amount of residual nausea.

But we soldier on! In fact, on Friday, at the apex of feeling horrible and wanting to die, we were sort of lying waxenly in bed, listening to NPR (we are, yes, that sort of sick person), and on came a story about the battle between the residents of artsy upcoming neighborhood East Pilsen and the owners of late-night hot dog/Polish stand Express Grill (1260 S Union Ave, 312 738 2112), who want to open a 24-hour franchise of their sausagery in the neighborhood:

Bakery owner Carlos Chavarria says it would bring traffic, loud customers and garbage.

CHAVARRIA: My son loves hot dogs. I love hot dogs. It’s not the issue. It’s not one business versus another. It’s about a neighborhood concern about the potential chaos that would be brought forth with this kind of establishment coming in.

Chavarria is also quoted in the Sun-Times piece on the controversy (dude is media-famous!):

“This is a threat, not an opportunity for our neighborhood,” says Carlos Chavarria, who owns Kristoffer’s Cafe and Bakery on Halsted. … Then there’s the traffic jams and litter and overflowing Dumpsters, not to mention the rodents, graffiti, prostitution and double-parked cars, Chavarria says.

Well! We had not actually realized the direct corollary between late-night dogs and prostitution! But we are happy to be informed!

Chavarria’s not the only person speaking out against Express Grill, but he’s also up against stiff competition from residents who would welcome the injection of variety into East Pilsen’s somewhat lackluster dining scene.

Now that we can stomach the thought of actually eating (but gently — only gently), we will admit that there is a fairly permanent place both in our life and in our heart for a late-night dog topped with fried onions. But we will also point out that we can smell the onions from Express (and its nearby rival, Jim’s) when we are driving on the Dan Ryan. And we are not entirely sure we would welcome with open arms that smell into, say, our bedroom.

The debate rages on! And, um, will be resolved tonight. At a meeting which will pit neighborhood officials (including Alderman Danny Solis, major wheel in the Daley machine) against the Express Grill folks. Sun-Times is calling odds against. We’ll keep you posted.

Hot Dog Controversy…in Chicago? [WBEZ]
Sausage showdown [Sun-Times]

[Photo: Polish, Chicago-style, via ejholmes’s Flickr]

DeathMatch: East Pilsen vs. Express Grill