The latest conflict in Pilsen, Chicago’s current poster child for gentrification, is about hotdogs. It all started when Carlos Chavarria, owner of Kristoffer’s Café at 18th and Halsted, found out that the building under construction across the street was to become a twenty-four-hour hotdog joint owned by Alex Lazarevski, the proprietor of the Express Grill on Union south of Roosevelt (he was unavailable for comment). Lazarevski’s Express Grill is one of the last survivors of the famed Maxwell Street hotdog joints, but to Chavarria it represents something besides a hot meal and a piece of history. “We are concerned about the migration of the problems that they are currently experiencing there on Union—prostitution, shootings, congestion, garbage, graffiti,” he rattles off. “We suspect that they’re losing their lease.” With the neighborhood’s art galleries, alderman and real estate giant Podmajersky lined up behind him, Chavarria is determined to keep the hotdog stand out of the Chicago Arts District. He will state his case at a community meeting/press conference Thursday evening at Providence of God Community Church.
411: Hotdog Haters in Pilsen