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Wed, Jan 23, 2013
7:00 p.m.

Added Jan 15 2013

I am hosting a community meeting to discuss and review a proposal to construct a Burger King drive-thru restaurant at 7513 N. Clark (in the Gateway Shopping Center). The meeting will take place on Wednesday, January 23rd, 7:00 p.m., at the Pottawattomie Park Fieldhouse, 7340 N Rogers (west of Clark).

Representatives of Burger King, including the franchisee, Adam Velarde, who owns 28 Burger King restaurants throughout the Chicagoland area, will present a proposal to build a Burger King restaurant with a drive thru.

The construction of the Burger King would take place on the vacant "out-lot" that exists along Clark Street in the Gateway Center, just north of the building that houses the Dominick's (see photo below, courtesy of DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard). When the shopping center was constructed fourteen years ago, the out-lot was intended to be developed at a later date with a compatible commercial use.

For more information, including a look at the site plans, elevations and renderings, visit:

  • RP Advocate Servo solvo sermo.

    Our Alderman seems to do a pretty good job of practicing "Realpolitik". He listens to the ideologues and accommodates their passions within reason but also understands the pragmatic aspects of bringing new business into the neighborhood and recognizing the realities of how owners of private property have the right to use and develop their assets within what is permitted by the law. Vegetarians, fast food opponents and persons who find corporate chains, such as Burger King, to be morally offensive don't have much of a legal leg to stand on although they have every right to express their opinions. Much of their "sturm und drang" ends up having little influence on final business decisions. Is this just? Yes it is according to our current system of government.

  • Patricia Haase Disgruntled, disgusted customer

    Gateway is over run by rodents that the esteemed alderman has been unconcerned about. A BK would make them even fatter.

  • Rodents? You should see the rats we get from Morelia!! Part of the problem is the pigs I live amongst too. Also, in Joe's defense, the city cut their rodent patrol from something like 12 units to 2.

  • Joe Moore Alderman, 49th Ward


    Have you brought this to the attention of my office? If not, please contact us at, or 773-338-5796.

  • Patricia Haase Disgruntled, disgusted customer

    Yes, well. If the business owners were made to be responsible at addressing the rodent problem, pursuant to Ordinance and referred to the Ward Office at one time and never properly followed up on, even though it concurred the problem was extreme and not being adequately exterminated, that would be helpful, wouldn't it? Of course one never knows what was exchanged into who's hands.

  • Joe Moore Alderman, 49th Ward


    Do you want the problem solved? If you want the problem solved contact my office with the details of the location. If you want to rant on EveryBlock about real or imagined slights in the past, go at it, but it won't help me address your issue.

  • Patricia Haase Disgruntled, disgusted customer

    Nonsense, Mr. Moore. It was contacted, it was ineffective, while initially responsive, it blew it off. It has now escalated into a litigious process. It may be noted that had the city and the Ward been more responsive the loss MAY (and I underscore) have not have been so devastating.

    But this is now Off Topic, and thus poor netiquette.. However, Joe, in case you did not know, the purpose of public forums, generally, is for people TO "rant", as you so eloquently put it.

  • Donny Kerabotsos 30 year RP resident...

    I will say that it is a pleasure to converse with all of you kind people. To those who do not agree with me, i want to know that you are not without my gratitude. While we do not agree, you have chosen to participate in public discourse. That is the first step in inciting positive change. Your intentions are in the right place. Showing up to the table and listening to opposing view points is one of the hardest parts of this whole process. Kudos to all!

  • Donny Kerabotsos 30 year RP resident...

    Thanks Bishop!

    You may just catch me at that show. I love hitting up the MAYNE STAGE.

  • Irish Pirate Littleton/Artist/Uptown/Chicago

    I honestly don't see how BK would make for a rodent problem. Whatever you can say about unhealthy fast food chain food they do run a clean shop. Especially a free standing store as proposed, much harder to control with common walls and a messy neighbor or two.
    Someone mentioned the storage place having rats and that don't surprise me, there are plenty of places to hide in there and a lot of people store food items.

  • Helen NoH North of Howard for 55 + years

    Mr. Rogers, you didn't seriously think we wouldn't reach 100, did you?

    Good old Howard Bowl. RIP. At least, the Pivot Point Building was saved so that Tanya can now live there. I'm glad for that.

    And thanks to this thread and a friend who explained it to me, I've learned a little popular culture that went right by me at the time. Well, well, Donny, I knew there was something fishy.

  • Helen, all that matters is that I was 100. Can't wait for this meeting. Im sure Alderman Moore and BK can't as well.

  • RP Advocate Servo solvo sermo.

    Bacon Double Cheeseburger junkies can't wait either. Some among us barely have been surviving by eating sticks of butter rolled in bacon crumbles each day to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Medicare doesn't cover that by the way. Please show up at the meeting to support this proposal.

  • Helen NoH North of Howard for 55 + years

    Sticks of butter rolled in bacon crumbles sounds around 75% tastier than having to eat a B.K. burger, but it takes all kinds, Advocate.

  • Pancetta Dance therapist and Foley artist

    I wish BK would start serving up deep fried butter balls from the 2009 Texas State Fair. They were awesome but you have to eat them fast or they begin to melt.

  • The Bishops 10+ years NOH....yeah, we're here to stay

    If we're still fielding suggestions in lieu of BK, may I offer the following, all of which would surely be hits:,0,914079.story

    - chris

  • Donny Kerabotsos 30 year RP resident...

    My favorite part of that article is the center for consumer freedoms quotes. It reminds me of some of our conversation here.

    I am regularly asking myself, "Why does the average American seem to want choices taken away from them?!?".

    I understand smoking is not healthy. I consciously chose to do it anyway. I understand it is not safe to go off into the woods with limited supplies and no communication. I still do it. Nothing infuriated me more than the time I was asked to leave the Evanston beach and go to another because there was no life guard on duty at my beach. I understand there is a drowning risk every time I step into a body of water. I know that certain things aren't going to make me any healthier. It is my choice to do so. These are the things that make me feel alive. Warning campaigns are great. It clues the more ignorant or uninformed Americans to risks they face. I do not need a babysitter to tell me what I can and can't do because it's not safe or healthy. I take personal responsibility for all of my actions. If I were to drown it would be my fault. If I get cancer it will be no ones fault but my own.

    In my opinion this is the single largest problem facing our country. Everyone seems to think its someone else's responsibility to keep them safe or healthy. I am not so broad as to say things like poisoning a population with asbestos that you know is harmful isn't something you should be held accountable for. But it's not McDonalds fault if you spilled hot coffee on your lap and there is no warning on the cup. COFFEE IS HOT, we all know this. It's not BK or Cheesecake Factory's fault if you get heart disease. Everyone knows the bacon double whopper is not a heart healthy option. Freedom is a precious thing. We must let people do what they want and hold them accountable for their own mistakes.

  • Chef Roux Small Business Owner

    I believe it would be illuminating to hear from the Rogers Park Chamber of Commence and actual area business owners.

    As a business owner, RP resident, and having been formally educated in International Banking and Finance, I have very strong and articulate views on this matter that I hope to share at the meeting.

    But, I would like to hear from area businesses and proprietors.

  • Chef, Yes lets here from the Rogers Park Chamber of Comments.

    Bout time they chimed in.

  • Pancetta, If you like deep fried butter balls you should try the fried cream cheese balls at Tommy Nevin's in Evanston. They have bacon bits inside them and are covered with bread crumbs. They melt in your mouth.

  • Donny Kerabotsos 30 year RP resident...

    Chef, if you have the time, why not throw these articulate educated opinions on the thread? I will be out of town on business all next week. If you save them all for the meeting, I won't ever get to hear them. That's part of the reason why I started posting so frequently on this thread. If I can't be there maybe some of these folks will carry what I have said here into the meeting with them.

  • tom 2422 Rogers Parker since 1972

    Wow. I just read thru some more of this thread.

    I wonder of BK is going to cater the event? Whoppers and Fish Whoppers are actually pretty good for fast food.

    Thanks go to the Alderman for subjecting this to a public meeting and to negotiating changes with BK prior to the meeting. He doesn;t have to do this.

    The best arguments in favor seem to be:
    - job opportunities
    - an owner who agreed to some aethestic changes and who by some accounts seems responsible
    - nobody else wants to build on this site
    - tax revenue

    The best arguments against seem to be:
    - loitering, already a problem by Dominicks...
    - BK questionable reputation for responsible operations
    - fast food chain and all the issues cited in Fast Food Nation (at some point I could see fast food being taxed extra like booze and cigarettes to help fund the health care industry that deals with all the obese and diabetic folks in our nation).
    - noise and litter
    - cheapens the overall look/feel of Gateway

    I work evenings so I will miss the fun event, but it sure looks interesting.

  • Helen NoH North of Howard for 55 + years

    We'll save you a burger, Tom. You could send the other half to take notes.

  • Jay

    I'd rather have a Wendy's.

  • KLD Resident for nearly 15 yrs.

    Joe, I appreciate BK, but the challenge is that we already had one go down in flames just east of Western and Howard. The property remains an eyesore to all who see it. It disappoints me that we cannot get a more reliable franchisee who trains its staff to smile and treat its customers right.

    I wish that Gateway could snag something more appetizing. I miss Quiznos, but I realize that location makes a difference.

    L. A. Fitness needs a 'better fit' with its message of health. Why does the management team at Gateway seem so incompetent w/r/t getting tenants? Is it really such a bad location? Or does the owner have too much faith in these folks? I actually approached them a while back with an idea, but they never followed up, so I never invested.

    I am glad that Gamestop, L. A. Fitness/Ballys, Marshalls, and perhaps, GNC have stabilized. . . . but BK?

    Again, BK has proven that it cannot hold a property in our neighborhood. I don't know that its distance from McDonalds makes a difference, when you consider the above.

  • Patsy W.

    Adam Velarde, the franchisee, had no connection with that failed and mismanaged venture farther west on Howard. There is no connection what so ever other than the brand name. Keep an open mind and go with the process.

  • KLD Resident for nearly 15 yrs.

    That's irrelevant. The issue is that our ward is now left with an eyesore from the last failed BK, which is not that far away. This reply does not address the fact that this is another Burger King. That is just down the block from McDonalds, but near other franchises in a mixed, but often lower income earner area where cholesterol clogging food creates long term heart health risk challenges to St. Francis and an over taxed city. If it was near the L entrance, then it may arguably make more sense, but building in the parking lot near Dominick's takes business away from Dominick's, as well.

  • RP Advocate Servo solvo sermo.

    The city zoning ordinance doesn't seem to address CCFs (cholesterol clogging foods) or LTHRCCs (long term heart health risk challenges). As sincere as your concerns seem to be, they don't seem to be covered by the formal business planning and zoning process. That is problematic but has no solution.

  • KLD Resident for nearly 15 yrs.

    There is always room for discretion. However, the Burger King that failed still leaves a blight on Howard Street that has yet to be remedied. It comes in the shadow of another regardless of the owner. If there are too many non-diverse fast food franchises, then this seems like an arguable a zoning issue. Just like too many liquor stores, among other things. How many businesses can sell Bud and thrive?

    What are actual reasonable grounds that the Alderman can consider? Is a failed Burger King just down the road, whose 'bones' remain in our area create good faith grounds to oppose? I don't know what better grounds that there are!

    I'd rather have a Trader Joes, among other options for that space. Maybe we can attract an Evanston business to move south!

  • RP Advocate Servo solvo sermo.

    Some people would like another Trader Joe's even though one is opening a mile farther north this spring. I would like a Nieman Marcus or a Mercendes Benz dealership but we have to be realistic about the Gateway Mall. The failed BK farther west on Howard is absolutely disconnected from the current proposal (different owners; different franchise). Let's just focus on the proposal in front of us and drop all the irrelevant and unassociated stuff. Only a thought.

  • KLD Resident for nearly 15 yrs.

    I guess that the real challenge is that no business, other than Panda Express, has put it's . . . in the ring. I would have preferred Panda, but apparently, the proposed design just could not pass muster. That said, I wish that there was an alternative that had market support and interest in the space.

    Why does the management team seem so incompetent? Is it really demand to develop in the area? Or is it the way that they are mistreating the space? Should Dominick's be more pro active at cleaning up the trash that periodically blows around in their lot? Or management with a clean up team and security?

    I felt there was no incentive for me and some investors. I made suggestions; it was like talking to a wall, when we spoke to mgmt at 'Gagway.' I moved on . . the project went somewhere else and someone took else took over. I would not be surprised if others have had the same sort of reaction.

    This is the real issue in my opinion. That's why! There may have been no incentive for interest. I experience this in the Loop everytime our office moves, which is about every decade. When a management team is too fat, then there is always someone else willing to work with you. I fear that Gateway is better off full and working with an equal or higher return, then not as full as it remains.

  • KLD Resident for nearly 15 yrs.

    It is relevant if the Burger King did not survive nearby. Burger King should purchase or demolish the property, but that's not going to happen. I regret the irresponsibility of the last franchise, but BK should step up to the plate. Its failure to do so is a disappointment.

    That said, it disappoints me that the neighborhood is powerless to put pressure on Gateway to reasonably seek tenants to fill the space.

    There are successful businesses that I support and purchase from, like the RP Fruit Mkt. I appreciate the need to create a more attractive space, but consider the audience and the past track record of BK. I remember waiting in that drive thru at BK on Howard Street. Certain safety features did not exist.

    Will safety features become a viable discussion in the plan for the drive thru portion? Or will it, again, but overlooked?

  • Donny Kerabotsos 30 year RP resident...

    Any news from the meeting last night? How did it go?

  • The Bishops 10+ years NOH....yeah, we're here to stay

    surprisingly civil! I'd bet the over...

    - cb

  • tom 2422 Rogers Parker since 1972


  • Helen NoH North of Howard for 55 + years

    Chris, you ducked out early and missed the fight. (Just kidding.) I thought you'd walk me home.

    There was a smaller turnout than I expected. I thought the B.K. team made a very good presentation. Tom, Velarde gave the locations of his other locations in the city, but I'm afraid I didn't take notes for you. Perhaps there will be further tweaks to the proposal, based on comments. Their traffic consultant pretty much promised me to do some things to make drivers aware of pedestrians around the exit.

  • I could only stay for part of the evening. The owner seemed like a committed and capable franchisee. He has 28 BK restaurants in IL and southern WI and employs over 600 people. He mentioned that he wouldn't own the building or the land, just operate the BK. This is a similar situation to the now defunct BK on Howard. The Gateway developers would continue to own both land and building. Both the franchisee and the BK construction rep admitted to the reality that BK has not always done a good job of vetting franchisees prior to 10 years ago, so some of the stores were highly problematic. While I was there, nothing was said as to why this location should flourish while the Howard Street BK bit the dust.

    Forty to 45 people would be employed at the proposed BK with most employees recruited from the neighborhood. Most employees would be PT -- franchisee said it was because his employees prefer that flexibility (code for avoiding the employer penalties under the Obamacare mandate. I don't blame him one bit for utilizing a practice that will inevitably become the norm.)

    When Gateway was developed they entered into a Planned Development Agreement with the City. The zoning variance that is needed now is to allow a drive-through at that spot. Not only would this require Joe’s (City Council) approval, it would also need the approval of the City’s Planning Commission. Joe mentioned that the Panda Express was the only other entity that had ever expressed any interest in that spot. The BK restaurant efforts have been in development for four years.

    More to folllow...

  • The thing that has perplexed me for a long time is exactly what Gateway has done to attract tenants through the years. I had stated in an earlier posting that a neighbor wanted to rent retail space up there years ago, and was quoted rental rates equivalent to Lincoln Park! She took her establishment (still thriving) down to Edgewater as a result. I wonder what is in the “Planned Development Agreement” that enabled the Gateway people to try and charge such rates and not care about such a high level of vacancies. Joe – can the public get a copy of the Agreement that is now in need of this amendment?

    I was hoping we’d hear from the folks at Hop Haus and Ethiopian Diamond to see what they think given the reality that a lot of their best parking slots will now be lost to their customers. Additionally, their customers will have to walk across increased parking lot traffic to reach those restaurants, as they are projecting 40 cars an hour at the drive-through. A guy I know sent me an email after the fact stating he thought this was a done deal. Apparently, Joe’s Ward Zoning Advisory Committee is continuing to weigh in – anyone know who is involved in that group?

    Did anyone who was there jot down the locations of Adam’s Chicago BK stores? I left before that info was provided. Perhaps a look at some of them would tell us how well he lives up to his trash pick-up and anti-loitering commitments.

  • Darrin Greenview Terrace Association Member

    I was impressed with Adam and the proposal for the following reasons
    -born and raised and still lives in Chicago
    -self made (started from nothing and now has 28 locations)
    -involved in his locations physically and through video monitoring
    -employs over 600 people, 40-45 new jobs at this location from the community
    -has stuck with this project to get it to this point over the last 4 years even with many changes
    -original 6 employees still work for him
    -scholarship's are available to employees
    -he is a minority
    -understands the community and wants to be a good neighbor.

    After the meeting I thanked him for his time and with the way some people were treating him am amazed that he still wants to be our neighbor, It goes both ways.

    Some people seem to think that the grassy area is a park or "green space" for the city of Chicago. It's not, it is privately owned land that has always been planned for development but has not been... taxes and upkeep continue. The plaza has empty storefronts, with the increased traffic pulling into the plaza it will hopefully make the location more desirable for other types of business.

    It's a Burger King, not a crack den...It's an underdeveloped 14 year old shopping plaza, not an historical marker.

  • SD.. BK and other franchises hiring predominantly part-time employees has been the norm for quite a while, nothing to do with Obamacare. You know that. I can appreciate the desperate effort to inject a jab at any opportunity, but most reading here are more aware than you think.

  • Al I. Not Defender of Cartoon Cows

    Gotta call it like I see it. Not a fan of having the BK there, but the plan doesn't seem unreasonable and it's a free country. SD, your posts should have a disclaimer on them that you're going to try to include at least one swipe against the other side. I'd love to see more full time employment in the fast food industry, but the truth is as Mr. Rogers says, it has long predated Obamacare. Additionally, the concern about loss of parking rings hollow-- that lot is huge, and I'm doubtful that anybody cares that they'd have to park one block over when going to Hop Haus. (Call me weird, I've never driven there. Not big on drinking and driving.)

  • nice proposal

  • tom 2422 Rogers Parker since 1972

    Good to hear that the owner seems competent. Thanks for all the updates from meeting attendees. Darrin makes a good case for BK moving forward. Thanks Darrin. As much as I hate the idea in prinicple, the fact that this owner has stuck with it for 4 years is impressive and maybe he can prove us wrong and create a viable, well run business.

    That said, I think Suzanne asks some good questions regarding rents and leasing strategy at Gateway. I always find it interesting that some landlords of commerical developments seem to manage to attract good retail tenants and create the synergy of businesses to make a shopping area vibrant and some seem to attract lousy ones and create a problem for the nieghbors.

    Given the TIF for this area and the large sums of public funds that have been invested it sure seems like the folks runing the Gateway Center don't seem to have the skills to attract viable businesses. We can't do better than self-storage for Gateway? We can't find businesses to open at a busy major transportation hub? We have seen some progress at Gateway but it sure has been a slow uphill climb.

    Just wondering why this major infusion of our tax dollars hasn't resulted in a much more vibrant shopping area.

  • KLD Resident for nearly 15 yrs.

    The rent is artificially high and does not create an incubator for future business expansion in the area. This sort of challenge has existed for years in what is becoming the ongoing blight and an eventual tear down at Rogers and Damen. Mike Land, among others such as the former real estate agents, filled me in about all things on that monstrosity that I like to call artificial blight.

    That Damen/Rogers retail strip remains in an area destined for residential development for those who remember the Chinese Buffet that was eventually leveled, which served as a dual home for drunks who hung out on the 'Damen Avenue picture frames' north of Rogers.

    The only good thing about Gateway is the anchors that it has with L. A. Fitness, Dominicks, and Marshall's. Other than that, it is a disaster waiting to happen if any of those anchors pull out. Knowing that that the parking lot can get rather full, since I regularly worked-out at L. A., I find that the addition of the BK may incubate an unintended mess.

    The management at Gateway needs to lower the rent and encourage new business to open up, not deter it. There is no incentive to lease at Gateway. There are many other places willing to rent more for less with heavier traffic geared to potential consumers. GNC, Marshall's and the beauty supplier work because of L. A. Fitness, perhaps. The synergy is just not there in my opinion.

    Fast food does not always attract the sort of traffic that uses Gateway. It will attract those who travel down Clark, but will take up needed parking for Hop Haus, which was a fortunate replacement for what seemed to become elderly restaurant owners. The help has always been a challenge to inspire in our area. The best way to get good help is to attract businesses that benefit the neighborhood.

    I don't know that Burger King will do that. It seems like an excuse to appease the management team at Gateway that seems starving for a tenant; any tenant!

  • ^^^ KLD, I do remember the Chinese Buffet although I never went in there. What were, "The 'Damen Avenue picture frames' north of Rogers?"

  • ^^^ Christine, do you remember when it was Scotty's Restaurant and before that a National Food Store?

  • That I do not remember. I think I remember the Chinese place from around 1995-96'ish. Back then I lived in East Rogers Park and used to drive that route to take the kids to St. Margaret Mary for school.

  • KLD Resident for nearly 15 yrs.

    The East wall of the Chinese Buffet had several areas under the roof, where there may have been planters or Chinese Emblems. These 'squared off' areas were big enough for the inebriated to lie down or sit up and sip their malt liquor or spirit of choice during the evenings. It got so bad, that the City posted signs warning of the fines for drinking in public. The problems emerged when the son of the owner allegedly took over the Buffet. Eventually, the property was sold. I liked the buffet when the old man ran it.

  • Hey Christine. I'm a fan of Tommy Nevin's. Love the shepherd's pie but I've never tried the fried cream cheese balls. That sounds crazy good. Can't wait to try 'em.

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