By Chinta Strausberg
Known for saving souls, Pastor Ira Acree who heads the Greater St. John Bible Church and is co-chairman of the Leaders Network, on Sunday July 7 announced he is opening a restaurant called “Avenue Dogs” that will make your taste buds shout with joy.
Acree chose the Austin community to open up his hot dog eatery and has plans to establish a chain of “Avenue Dogs” restaurants across the city.
“I’m claiming it,” Acree said during an interview on WVON’s “Bob Shaw” show. The restaurant will be located on Chicago Avenue.
While Acree has some partners, he’s looking for more to make his dream become a reality. The restaurant, he said, will create jobs and give the Austin community a much-needed burst of economic development. According to former Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin’s final report, endangered communities indicated Black unemployment was in the double digits.
Boykin identified the endangered communities as: Austin, West Garfield Park, Englewood, Riverdale, Auburn Gresham; Gage Park; Washington Park; Fuller Park and North Lawndale.
Boykin called the economic plight of Blacks living in the endangered communities, “a tale of two cities.”
“In West Garfield Park, the average life expectancy is 71.7 years. Citizens of the Loop can expect to live to nearly 84 years. In Austin, the unemployment rate is 21 percent,” the report stated.
“Not even 5 percent of Lincoln Park residents are jobless. As cranes rise in the West Loop, companies like International Harvester, Sears and Roebuck, and Brach’s Candy Company have fled the city’s West Side. Austin teens have a 91 percent unemployment rate.”
In opening a restaurant with hopes of citywide expansion, Acree is planning to change those statistics and provide economic opportunities to his community. By securing more investors for his restaurant venture, Acree hopes his dream of establishing a restaurant chain will become a reality.