Saturday, June 13, 2009

JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Donny Dirk's Zombie Den Planned For The Den Of Iniquity Formerly Known As Stand Up Franks, And Much More...

Photo By John Hoff 

xciting plans are being made for the bar formerly known as "Stand Up Frank's," which used to be a dark hole filled with sad, chronic inebriates until--mercifully--it was closed down several weeks ago. Now plans are being made to give the location new life as "Donny Dirk's Zombie Den." Already, a new green coat of paint has hit the exterior, which just happens to be that same eerie radioactive shade of avocado which--when you see it gathering in the shadows, hovering over the swamp--announces the zombies are coming, the zombies are coming.

Here are some details which were aired during the Hawthorne Public Safety Committee Meeting and then the Executive Board meeting regarding plans for the transition to Donnie Dirk's.

First of all, the atrocious lighting situation at the building formerly known as Stand Up Frank's was improved rather easily: it turns out light bulbs on the exterior hadn't been changed for years, maybe decades. So the new owner--the same woman who owns Psycho Suzie's Motor Lounge--sprang for some new bulbs. It's amazing, sometimes, how little effort it really takes to improve the neighborhood, and how some people don't bother to put that effort forward. But, thankfully, other people do, and so far the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council appears very pleased with the plans being made for Donny Dirk's...

Here are some, but not all of the details, because I was told some of this is PROPRIETARY INFO and nobody wants a good business idea ripped off before it can be implemented. However, based on the name there will obviously be something of a zombie theme. Since there's no kitchen in this small building, the new owners will keep the pizza menu but food will be delivered from Psycho Suzi's.

(At the Hawthorne Board meeting, I urged the owners to consider the "greenest" vehicles possible for this kind of delivery, and that's all I'll say about THAT)

Security will be emphasized at this new business, including 3 exterior cameras and two security personnel on duty in the evening. Guests will be greeted by security at the door, and carded before entering. The price of the drinks will range from about $3.50 for a domestic beer, to as much as $12 for quality Scotch. Instead of "Stand Up Frank's," this will be "Sit Down Dirk's." There will be no "amusement devices or vending machines" on the inside, just a jukebox. However, there are plans to have a two piece band from time to time. This depends on the liquor license being upgraded to C2.

At the meeting of the Public Safety Committee, Lt. Rugel of the Fourth Precinct said he "ran calls for service" at the Psycho Suzi's location, to get an idea how well Psycho Suzi's was managed regarding public safety issues. Rugel said there were only 11 calls to 911 over the last couple years, and most of these involved auto crashes out in the street, a fantastic record for any business. Rugel said one of the new improvements planned for Donny Dirk's Zombie Den is a fence around the parking lot so people "can't just cut through." It's a simple improvement, Rugel said, but it will really help.

Some discussion took place about a petition which had circulated opposing re-opening of this location. Supporters of the new Donny Dirk's emphasized this petition came out before the new plans were aired. Leaning heavily on a pun, one Donny Dirk's supporter said "FRANKLY there wasn't enough management oversight at Stand Up Frank's."

At these same meetings, other business plans were aired for the area. The owner of Slice of Chicago discussed his plans to turn the former Jug Liquor location into a take out food place, which will be named TASTE of Chicago. Apparently, the "Slice of Chicago" name confuses plenty of people since the establishment doesn't serve pizza so much as Chicago style hot dogs and gyro sandwiches. The new establishment's name will correct this confusion.

At first, some of the leaders of Hawthorne were less-than-excited about the idea of more fast food on Broadway, however, the plans aired by Nidal Mustafa, owner of Slice/Taste of Chicago were persuasive. First and foremost, business owners in this area are pulling together a kind of "security coalition," what might be called a "business block club" to make sure a criminal element has no opportunity to gain a foothold.

In response to questions, Nidal Mustafa indicated he was willing to TURN AWAY CUSTOMERS if the customers were unsavory hang-arounds who would drag down the area. He wants this area of Hawthorne to get a fresh start and become prosperous. And, actually, one thing to keep in mind is the plans for a Taste of Chicago at the old Jug Liquor are temporary: within five years or so, when the economy turns around, there are plans to put in a large retail complex in this area.

Mustafa stated he had "cleaned up" the area at 1600 West Broadway, the sight of his current "Slice of Chicago" business. Readers are free to comment on this assertion, which I am still trying to confirm.

Taking into account plans at the new Donny Dirk's, plus the fact Halek's has new ownership, and all these businesspeople are involved in a security coalition--including the owners of the tire establishment in that same area--the Hawthorne Neigbhorhood's leadership was persuaded by Nidal Mustafa's plans, though reservation was expressed on the record, hopes that these dreams and promises will indeed come to fruition.

The new owner of Halek's was also present at the meetings, and promised big changes were coming, though his plans were not as ready-to-present as the "Zombie Bar" plans. He promised the bar's name would change, and if an upgraded liquor license could be obtained there would be, periodically, bands with five pieces and under.

It's fair to say these plans for development have people in the Hawthorne Neighborhood very excited. The idea of a trendy nightclub replacing the grit and grime and crime....well, it's the kind of thing we work for every day, and dream about in our sleep.

Ever since these plans have been aired, I think it's fair to say Hawthorne's dreams are filled with zombies.


Anonymous said...

Best luck in this endeavor, Psycho Suzi's rocks!

The Mortgage Geek said...

John, you might want to double-check the part about Halek's having new management. I think that's one of the bartenders who's looking into buying the place. Even so, my understanding is that Halek's isn't really a problem bar at all and is expected to participate in this "business block club idea."

Anonymous said...

A big YAY!! for north. Psycho Suzi's is great and I have never ever felt threatened or the need "to watch my back" there. Lets hope the Zombie Den is as good as Suzi's!

Anonymous said...

The only difference is the drinks will be twice the money and half as strong. And you'll be sitting around a bunch of tattooed rich kids who like to go to the city for a thrill. I like it without the artificial character.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see what the owner of Psycho Suzi's has up their sleeve on this one! I live in the Northeast/North area and I love Suzi's! It was such a great addition to the neihborhood. Hopefully Donny Dirk's Zombie Den can be as big an asset to the Hawthorne community as Psycho Suzi's has been to mine.

Joseph Pettini said...

I checked it out last night. They've done a great job. Nice decor, good vibe. Enjoy it now before the Brads and Tammies overrun it.

Collier said...

The Zombie Den looks phenomenal. I peeked in tonight, and I can't wait to check it out again on Tuesday when I have the night off and can actually have the night off. I will be delivering customers there with my Hybrid car service whenever possible. As for haters who want things in north to stay as they were, time moves on. There will always be ghettos where you can get kerosene served on the cheap. It's time to clean this one up.
Yours truly,
Mr. Huggable North

Erik said...

Checked it out Saturday night, they've done a great job on the inside, RIP Franks (choice of booze and a splash for $3.75 just like Franks made them) were good and the other selections were extensive, security was robust and welcoming. I will definitely be headed back.

Asia said...

I also checked out the Zombie Den on Saturday night...fabulous. They've painted the ceiling gold, hung chandeliers, carpeted the floor, put in leather booths on the wall and high-top chairs at the bar, full bar with employee-made infusions sitting on the shelves maturing (can't wait for the blackberry vodka!). Zombie movies playing on the two TVs, waitresses in long black dresses (not sure if that was just for the opener though), bartenders in short-sleeve button downs (must show the tattoos of course) with ties worn askew. Also, security was great! Front door for IDs, man outside the men's room and the back door is now a fire exit only with an alarm. Great job Suzi's!!