A few of the workers at Felony Franks took owner Deno Andrews aside on Wednesday to tell him how grateful they were for their jobs.
Andrews, and his father Jim, re-opened their hot dog stand at 11 a.m. on Thursday — this time in Oak Park. Felony Franks employs felons as a rehabilitation effort, as most of their workers — eight full-time and four part-time — spent time in prison. They'll hire more workers eventually. Andrews uses re-entry organizations including the Safer Foundation and The Geo Group to find his employees.
The younger Andrews said he was touched by his employees' appreciative gestures from the day before. "It illustrated how difficult it is for this population to get this kind of work," Andrews said.
The menu will still feature the "Misdemeanor Wiener" (Chicago-style hot dog). They held a naming contest online for customers, and the Polish sausage has been re-christened as the "Parolish," while the Italian beef is now the "Big House Beef." They're using Red Hot Chicago sausages, and Andrews said the food will be of higher quality compared to the Chicago location. They'll be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.
The reopening gives Andrews satisfaction. He sparred with Chicago Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd Ward) at Fioretti, a candidate for Chicago's mayor, help forced the closure of the original Felony Franks in 2012 inside his ward. The fight even made national headlines in the Wall Street Journal, as the Trib's Kevin Pang pointed out. Fioretti didn't like the stigma to the community, including the restaurant's slogan: "Food so good it's criminal."
Andrews isn't afraid of running into another situation like the one Fioretti forced him into, he said. He's happy in Oak Park, lauding the community's progressiveness, and saying they appreciate both the fiscal benefits of having Felony Franks and the social benefits in aiding rehabilitation.