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NW Side Hot Dog Stand's Best Customer: The Town of Cicero

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 29, 2011 1:40PM

2011_8_29_dog_stop.jpg If you read the reviews on Yelp (always a risible notion), there's nothing special about The Dog Stop on the Northwest side. (Although the restaurant's web site champions their "60 different varieties of homemade soups, two served daily along with (their) Zesty Chili" and the fact they're open late to sate the appetites of last call casualties.)

The Sun-Times reports today The Dog Stop is the go-to hot dog stand for the Town of Cicero, eight miles to the south. Since Larry Dominick was elected Town President in 2005, town officials have spent $120,000 there, including $26,000 in TIFs to to cater a community park opening in 2008.

By now it should surprise no one that The Dog Stop's principals are also connected to Cicero Town government. Elaine Pesek, a shareholder in The Dog Stop, is a Cicero teacher who also sits on Dominick's office of literacy. Her sons Craig and Jeff are employees at the restaurant. The Pesek boys also serve as Cicero town consultants and business has been good for them. They've made over $850,000 during Dominick's tenure. The Peseks were also vital players in getting Dominick elected.

The story doesn't end there. The Peseks were outed by a convicted drug dealer earlier this year for their involvement and management of the River North nightclub Ontourage. Henry Rendon testified at a mob bombing trial he was a silent partner in the club; Craig Peseks was the owner while Jeff Pesek helped manage the place.

Cicero town spokesman Ray Hanania, possibly drawing on his career as a comedian, stuck to the script when these stories about Cicero patronage break, saying the Peseks were good people who love Cicero and there were no problems with having them cater town events and paying for them with TIFs. Civic Federation President Laurence Msall called the expense "unreasonable." Jason Liechty, co-author of a 2007 report on TIF expenditures, said spending them on hot dogs was a new one for him.