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Hey, Pilsen! You're Getting a Hot Dog Stand!

By Chuck Sudo in Food on May 12, 2011 2:22PM


After a three year standoff with 25th Ward Ald. Danny Solis, businesses and residents, a judge ruled that Express Grill owner Alex Lazarevski has a right to open an Express Grill hot dog stand at the northwest corner of 18th and Halsted in Pilsen.

Judge Nancy Arnold ruled last month that Lazarevski did everything right in obtaining business licenses, building permits and construction of the still-shuttered stand and that outweighs neighborhood concerns about the sweet smell of grilled onions in the air, the added congestion, littering and loitering problems having an Express Grill in the area will add to an already tricky intersection and the possibility of drunken fights, prostitution and crime the stand could bring to the area.

Solis reacted to Arnold's decision by saying Express Grill would be a "nightmare" in that location. Business owners like Kristoffer's Café and Bakery owner Carlos Chavarria reiterated his longstanding concerns about the safety of the intersection, which concerns him more than the smell of onions in the air.

Chavarria does raise a valid point about safety. Lazarevski's stand is located directly in front of a bus stop. But folks looking for something to absorb an evening of drinking aren't going to care about where they park. The concerns about littering and loitering are also genuine, as anyone who's spent a 3 a.m. outside the hot dog stands on Union can attest. But Lazarevski also deserves the chance to prove that his business will address those issues with Express Grill's Pilsen stand.

Not that Lazarevski was worrying about that after the ruling. He plans on opening the stand ASAP.

“They made a big deal out of nothing. … Now, I’m not budging on anything. They put me through hell for three years. It was definitely unfair to me. It was very expensive. You can’t give someone permission to build something and then say you change your mind,” Lazarevski said. “I’m sorry it’s not an art studio or whatever else they want there.”