Felony Franks and other restaurants help ex-cons help you

If nobody hires ex-cons, then we shouldn’t be shocked when they return to lives of crime. So, for the good of Chicago, go pick up a couple of hotdogs at Felony Franks. James Andrews, who owns the West Side dog joint, makes it a point to hire people who have done time, seeing it as a service to a community that’s been struggling with crime for quite a while. There has been some pushback from the community, but Andrews stands by his mission.

The menu is pretty straightforward: hotdogs, sausages, steak sandwiches and French fries – the real deal, from raw potatoes. Orders are take from behind bulletproof glass (common in the neighborhood, unfortunately), but in the spirit of fun, customers are asked, “Are you ready to plead your case?” Also, an adaptation f the Miranda warning hangs on the wall, proclaiming your “right to remain hungry” – as if you’d want to!

If you’re jonesing for a “Misdemeanor Wiener” but don’t live in Chicago, there are restaurants around the country that help the recently released start fresh.

West Coast
Delancey Street: this San Francisco eatery is run by a foundation that helps ex-cons, drug addicts and the homeless get back on their feet.

East Coast
Mates Inn: the Trenton, New Jersey joint is on the state corrections department’s campus.

Andrews must be doing something right. Since opening, sales have reached $30,000 a month, and more than a thousand former inmates have applied for jobs.