Constitutional Law

Felony Franks Sign Doesn't Cut the Mustard, Chicago Says; Owner of Misdemeanor Wiener Provider Sues

Tired of what he describes as unreasonable ongoing delay by the city of Chicago and a local alderman in approving a sign for his restaurant, the owner of Felony Franks has filed a federal lawsuit.

Customers deserve a chance to buy a “misdemeanor wiener” at his Near West Side hot dog stand, which looks like it might be closed without a sign in the empty sign frame in front of the building, Jim Andrews tells the Chicago Journal.

He sued yesterday, seeking not only sign approval but nearly $300,000 in damages for business he says he lost as a result of not having the sign. In addition to using an attention-grabbing name, Andrews also makes a point of providing jobs to ex-convicts.

“I should be entitled to a sign, I should be entitled to a right of way permit, I should be entitled to my rights,” Andrews said today. calling his ability to name his restaurant as he sees fit a First Amendment issue . “I spent a lot of money over there on a piece of property I don’t own, and then to be held back on something as simple as a sign?”

Ald. Bob Fioretti of the city’s Second Ward admits he doesn’t like the restaurant’s name, but says it will be up to the court to decide what’s appropriate.

“It’s just how we’re going to do our aesthetic,” he said, explaining that the city is working on a streetscape project to improve the area. “This just doesn’t fit in.”

Earlier coverage: “Hot Dog Stand Aiming to Employ Ex-Cons Is Eating at Alderman”

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