Uncle Franky's - Original Art Spot

I'm not too proud to say I love eating a good turkey sammich.

And if you're not too proud to say that you love a Chicago dog, hot Italian beef, or a chili cheeseburger, then you'd probably dig Uncle Franky's, winner of CityPages Best Hot Dog in 2007.

While it doesn't boast sustainable practices, the menu boasts steamed dogs that are natural cased 6/lb Vienna Beef. You can even order your dog fried, if that's your thing. Malts, phosphates, and my favorite, the Nordeaster, are major menu bonuses. For $5.50, the Nordeaster gives you 6oz of turkey, grilled onions, and mild giardinara peppers all grilled on sub roll, topped with melted swiss. The Nordeaster packs a little punch in terms of heat. I WANT ONE NOW.

Sure, they've got sandwiches, but did you know Uncle Franky's is also an art spot? True dat! The Nordeast Uncle Franky's has a special secret hanging on the wall, and I'm not talking about the Scooby Doo lights or the Vienna Beef ads. Imagine our surprise to discover something unique while we were grubbing on Chicago-style eats.

(Photo taken with phone at Nordeast Uncle Franky's)

The piece above is an original pen and ink entitled "North Shore" by the bizarre Chicago artist Wesley Willis; it is almost identical to another Willis piece, "The Shore Line".

Known more for his preposterous music ("Rock n Roll McDonalds", "My Rhymes Rhyme") than his ink pen art, Willis was artistically prolific, even if the art was somewhat berserk.

Willis' homage to the Chicago skyline ponies up Uncle Franky's chicago-style street cred.

Here's a bit about Willis from his wikipedia biography:

"In 1989, Willis began hearing what he called 'demon voices' and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He often mentioned that his demons were named 'Heartbreaker,' 'Nervewrecker,' and 'Meansucker.' He called his psychotic episodes 'hell rides.'

Alternatively, he declared rock and roll to be 'the joy ride music' and Willis often indicated that listening to and performing music helped him battle the voices.

In the early 1990s, Willis became creatively active, selling detailed ink pen drawings of the Chicago cityscape on the street."

Jay Grobstein (formerly of Erte), owner of Uncle Franky's, and 3rd Coast Cafe in Chicago, is a Willis fan.

"I knew him; Wesley used to work right outside of my place in Chicago. He ate with us a lot. I've seen him work on hundreds of pieces, and this one is the best. I had this one hanging at my restaurant in Chicago for a couple of years, and then I moved it to my home. When I opened this place, I added the Willis piece. Out of all the Willis pieces I've seen, this one is the best," explained Jay.

The traveling skyline takes center stage at the Nordeast shop. You can't miss it.

Grobstein was excited to talk about Willis and his work. "Most people come and and think I drew it or something...it's always nice to come across someone who knows Wesley's work. I love talking about Wesley with other people."

It's too cold for flying kites, why not go chow a Chicago dog or Nordeaster at Uncle Franky's, and vibe out on the joyride of some original art by a one-of-a-kind artist?

Uncle Franky's
728 Broadway St. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

[where: Nordeast, Minneapolis, Uncle Franky's, Wesley Willis, 55413]

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