West Allis puts Sammy's Taste of Chicago move on hold

Published on: 3/13/2013

West Allis - Although city officials feel a little burned by Sammy's Red Hots, now Sammy's Taste of Chicago, they may still allow the restaurant to open in a new location.

And two other local businesses who also have angered the city for different reasons could face bleaker outcomes if they lose their licenses.

In the case of Sammy's, aldermen were perceptibly cool to the eatery's plan to move from 106th Street and Greenfield Avenue to 1234 S. 108th St. because city requirements, including landscaping and narrowing the driveway, had not been fully fulfilled at its current location.

"We've had issues for years," said 3rd District Alderman Gary Barczak, whose jurisdiction includes Sammy's.

Barczak said he is afraid that if the restaurant moves to such a visible location on Highway 100, the image the city is trying to build will be harmed if the business again disregards local requirements.

Similarly, Alderman Michael May, also representing the 3rd District, said, "It's a decade of noncompliance."

Assigning responsibility

But Sammy Bohringer, who opened the eatery in 1989, explained it was the building owner who was responsible and didn't follow through on the city's permit requirements.

"I was just a tenant," said Bohringer, who noted that he nonetheless has personally replaced a lot of trees to help with landscaping.

But May said that as the person who was granted the city permit, Bohringer was the person responsible to see to it that the permit requirements were met.

"All we're doing is asking all businesses to play by the same rules," May said.

The Common Council last week held up Sammy's request to move into the new location until he narrows the driveway and pays the fines that have piled up over the years. Bohringer was taking swift action this week to make all that happen. His request could come back to the council as early as next Tuesday.

Prospective license losers

Two other businesses are also being pressed by the city, but for more weighty reasons beyond aesthetics.

Mobile Estates of West Allis, 10401 W. Greenfield Ave., a mobile home park, hasn't fixed all the plumbing code violations the city ordered fixed in 2009, and Signature Chocolate, 1944 S. 76th St., is behind in its property taxes.

At Mobile Estates, city officials want equipment built into a lift station that handles sewage for the park. But the city has been delayed in dealing with Mobile Estates because officials have had difficulties serving a summons on the owner. The park's license expires April 30 if it is not renewed.

The Signature Chocolate license will expire July 1, but the owner has told some city officials that he plans to close well before that, said Alderman Marty Weigel.

That business that does private label chocolates for stores and for corporate gifts was hit hard by the recession and is behind on its taxes.