Viewpoint: Felony Franks, doomed by the name?


Do Evanston kids aspire to a youth of crime, followed by an adulthood of flipping burgers? And how many more weiners can you sell if you give your shop an outlaw theme?

Those are among the questions in play since that Jim Andrews, owner of the now-shuttered Chicago hot dog stand Felony Franks, has expressed an interest in opening a new shop in Evanston.

Based on coverage of Thursday night's 2nd Ward meeting from the Evanston Review, it seems clear that some Evanstonians think the shop glorifies the thug life and will lure youngsters into it.

I supposed you'd actually have to talk to a bunch of kids to know for sure.

Andrews obviously figures the outlaw theme packs in the customers, or he wouldn't go through all the aggravation it's caused him at the Chicago location.


A video profile of Felony Franks from the Wall Street Journal, posted in October 2009, not long after the Chicago restaurant opened.

But I have to wonder about the impact on the ex-offender employees of having their private shame put on display for all the customers to see. That part rather creeps me out.

A small business that makes it a practice to give ex-offenders a second chance? Great idea.

One that exploits their outsider status for commercial gain? Not so sure.

And given Evanston's special use permit requirement for take-out restaurants, there's a strong chance a few angry neighbors will be able to persuade aldermen to kill off the idea in whatever neighborhood Andrews might try to locate here.


Update 7/18/12: The Evanston Review reports that Felony Franks' owner has crossed Evanston off his list of possible new locations, after the chilly reception he got at the community meeting.

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