Next I want to share with you the story of Andres Flores, the proprietor of an Italian restaurant up in Rogers Park, a small, clean joint that serves, well, a damn good barbecue chicken pizza. But Andres’s is a complicated story, and his restaurant Chiki’s is a complicated place, so first I’m going to let his daughter Michelle talk. She just graduated from high school, and works at the family restaurant. (You can listen along here.)
What do you do around here?
Whatever my parents put me up to. If they want a waitress, I waitress. Delivery person, I can’t drive yet I have to go by foot, so I walk. Luckily I’m not a dishwasher anymore because my grandpa likes doing that. Sometimes cook the food, like for my family and friends.
My dad doesn’t like the plain walls, so he has his customers bring pictures by. He really likes the Godfathers, so all the customers are like, Where’d you get the Godfathers from? My mom doesn’t like them but we have it up there ‘cause everybody likes the famous Godfathers.
When we have customers come in they ask, So what made you get a pizza place, or What made you want it Italian? Because we’re Mexican. My dad says that when he had a crush on my mom, way back when, my mom wouldn’t give him the eye. She would just be, no get away. My mom didn’t like him. So finally they became friends and he still had to persuade her to be his girlfriend and then he told her that, If she marries him, then he’ll name a pizza place after her.
That’s how we have the name Chiki’s, because that’s his pet name for her. So after a while of them dating, him going to Mexico to ask for her hand in marriage, ‘cause she wouldn’t marry him unless her parents approved—he went, like, three times and they kept saying, No, no, no. Finally they got married, so we have the pizza place now. Like 20 years later, a pizza place, and it’s Italian because he’s worked in Italian restaurants everywhere, basically, and a lot of my uncles are Italian chefs so it’s an Italian restaurant. Sometimes we get tired of Italian food, so now we’re eating Mexican food again.
I graduated from Gordon Tech High School. It’s an awesome place. Freshman year was so exciting, ‘cause the student activity director was awesome. Ms. Eves knew what we liked, so the themes for Spirit Weeks were unique and awesome. They were just, like, awesome. And then sophomore year, when my brother’s class became seniors, the spirit was going down but we still had fun. Junior year we got a new student director so the spirit was going down all together, and then this year was just boring. Every little thing we got in trouble for. We had a 85-minute volleyball game, and then we had another one. We were texting the whole time. We didn’t even cheer on the teams or anything. But this year, in the faculty versus seniors basketball game, the seniors tied with the teachers, but they say we still won.
I’m going to Wright College next year for one year, then I might transfer to Columbia College to take television and then from there transfer to Loyola if I can for two years to become a psychologist. Psychology is my major. Ever since freshman year, I’ve wanted be a psychologist. I’m actually seeing a psychologist because if I do become a psychologist, I want to see what the person in the chair is feeling. She did the same thing. She went to a psychologist in order to see what the person’s going be feeling.
I want to study television because last year I walked into the class, like, Oh I’ll just blow it off, sleep all day or whatever. And then one girl kept bossing me around. She was like, Michelle do this, Michelle do that. So this year I just took charge. I was studio director. I was like, Well if this television cast is not going right, I know who I’m hunting down. One teacher told me that he didn’t think that I would become a great studio director, but I did, ‘cause I kicked everybody’s ass. They were all scared of me. It was awesome.
Once I got everything under control—once I knew, Oh, I’m supposed to look at these televisions instead of that big one, I’m supposed to do this and that—and people wouldn’t shut up, I started getting pissed off. There were some clowns in that class, and I had gone four years without saying anything to them, so I thought, 18 more weeks of school left: Why not make their life a living hell like they made mine?