Jim Andrews wants to give jobs to ex-cons and help them turn their lives around, but a West Side neighborhood isn't completely sold on his idea.
He's going to open a hot dog joint at the corner of Jackson Blvd. and Western Avenue and hire ex-cons to work there. He's calling it Felony Franks.
Since the year 2000, Andrews has been working with The Rescue Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is "to train and educate ex-offenders on how to operate and build a business and to assist them with funding to become responsible business owners."
Now he's taking that work a step further.
Describing the sign he's already put in place on his shop, he says, "(It's) a hot dog ... with a ball and chain on it, and it's under the name of Felony Franks, home of the misdemeanor weiner ... Food so good it's criminal."
Signs with hot dogs and hamburgers dressed in costume are always funny, and Andrews' is no different. Not all the franks in prison stripes on his signs are smiling, but then, have you ever been behind bars? It's not all fun and games.
Some (not all) neighors in the area don't like the sign or the "glorification" of crime. The "misdemeanor weiner" in its full glory offends some.
The local alderman, the 2nd Ward's Bob Fioretti, says he likes the idea of employing ex-felons, but hates the name of Andrew's shop.
"You are actually, in a sense, elevating the life of crime here in our city and we cannot tolerate that," Fioretti told WBBM radio. So, a hot dog is now a sign of elevated status.
John Hunt, an ex-felon who lives several block away, told WBBM that he agrees with the alderman.
"It's a good thing if he's going to hire ex-felons ... that's a beautiful thing. But the name? He should change the name ...," the WBBM Web site quotes Hunt as saying. "Felony Franks is still making me feel like a felon."
Another nearby resident said, however, "Felony Franks is just a name with a great concept behind it.."
And Andrews is sticking to his guns, so to speak. He says he's making a positive out of a negative and fulfilling a longtime dream to step up for ex-felons who are out to make a better life.
"The people that will be working here will have a positive attitude. They will be taught the right way to run a business and we will work close with them so that they can better their lives," he says.
So, what's the hold up (ugh)? There is none. Andrews will open the doors to his Felony Franks next month. It's a name so good it's criminal.
Please, no speeding en route.