Friday, October 21, 2022

Hot Dog Stand Back Open After City Shuts Them Down Over Cheech and Chong Mural

 CHICAGO (CBS) -- A dispute over a colorful mural on the side of a Pilsen hot dog stand prevented the business from renewing its licenses with the city.

We told you about that story earlier this month. But just a day after our story aired, the owners say the city reversed course and let the stand reopen.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported Thursday night, this is the first week back in business for Memo's Hot Dogs, 1447 W. 18th St. – and the owners are glad to have the grills sizzling again.

"We've got our business license and we are back up and running," said Memo's owner Janette Garza.

But the owners still want to know how a mural on the side of the building forced owners Janette and Gerrado Garza to shut down for weeks.

They were unable to renew their license due to unpaid fines over a colorful Cheech and Chong mural on the side of the building.

The mural on the side of Memo's is the work of artist Angel Silva, also known as Debso. It went up in 2019.

The Garzas said the city considers the alley-side mural a public advertisement, which requires a separate permit.  

"For us, it's our sole income - so we did struggle a bit," said Janette Garza. "We did get into some financial debt."

We first told you about this conflict between the small business and the city at the start of the month. A day after our story aired, the Garzas say Kenneth Meyer, Commissioner of the city Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, called them personally to clear a path for their license renewal.

"We're grateful," said Janette Garza. "We're grateful to the media."

"After the issue became public, the license was restored," said Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th). "Now, we have to do this more and more often. We have to make these issues public to get a response from the Fifth Floor; from the Mayor's office."

Ald. Sigcho-Lopez calls the city's enforcement of the mural inconsistent and heavy-handed, particularly given that it ultimately forced Memo's to close for weeks.    

"In this case, a mural shutting down a business - we thought it was a disproportionate policy," said Ald. Sigcho-Lopez.

"It was just kind of harsh the way they came down," added Gerardo Garza. "There was no way of going around it."

For more than 60 years, Memo's has been in the neighborhood - and with the city's change of heart, it will be around for a few more.

"We do feel hopeful that we will be able to pass it down another generation - at least one more generation," said Janette Garza.

The city office that regulates business licenses says once the proper paper was submitted and a renewal fee was paid, the license was reinstated.

The alderman has launched an investigation with the Office of the Inspector General. 

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