Controversy continues over sign for prison-themed hotdog stand

Felony Franks' permit request gets delayed

April 11, 2011

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(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
Alderman Bob Fioretti (second from left) and the transportation committee hear from Felony Franks' owner Jim Andrews (right).

The fight continues over whether a prison-themed restaurant in Chicago can hang a sign, a seemingly small issue that has generated quite a debate.

This is all about Jim Andrews' West Side hotdog stand, which he opened almost two years ago.

"Felony Franks," Andrews announced proudly before the City Council Transportation Committee on Monday afternoon. "Home of the Misdemeanor Weiner."

Andrews said there is nothing disrespectful about the name, noting that he employs ex-offenders.

He wants a sign above the sidewalk along Western Avenue to attract more business. That requires city council approval, and the local alderman, Bob Fioretti, is strongly opposed to it.

"It's a great concept, but it's a bad theme," Fioretti said.

Fioretti and some community residents told the committee that the prison theme sends the wrong message, and a sign would make it worse.

But committee chair Anthony Beale said he worries about a lawsuit from Andrews, if aldermen deny the permit.

"If this issue would go to court, I'm pretty confident the city of Chicago would lose," Beale said.

Beale moved to delay a vote while city inspectors look into some other issues. He urged Andrews to meet with residents and come to a compromise, though the restaurant owner said his rights are being violated, and he won't budge.