Big Guys is a sausage place that plays upon Southwest sides Grabowski imagery (their logo features a mustachioed sausage with aviator glasses, reminiscent of the "Da Bears" routine from Saturday Night Live) and is located "right across from da Jewels."
Big Guys occupies the old Parky's building/residence on Roosevelt Road, and it's been open for business three weeks, though the official "grand opening" is happening at the end of this week.
Friday, August 10, starting at 7PM, Big Guys is having a party and a screening of Bobby Flay's "3 Days to Open," featuring…Big Guys. The show airs at 9PM and is described on the Food Network site:
"Bobby Flay tackles a suburban Chicago sausage stand when he tries to help make four best friends' opening dreams come true in only three short days. But with clashing personalities, unimaginative toppings, a six-figure bank loan and a stand in need of a serious facelift, Bobby is being thrown into the fire. With only 3 Days to Open will Bobby be able to save this stand?"
Big Guys has taken some steps to correct that alleged problem of "unimaginative toppings" with chimmichurri sauce on the cheddar brat and a very peppery "burlesque sauce" on the crawfish sausage. Of the sausages we sampled at Big Guys, our favorite was the Italian Chicken, which along with the Buffalo Chicken Sausage, is one of the two sausages made in house; the Italian Chicken has good traditional Italian sausage flavors, with pronounced fennel and red pepper and perhaps a bit less of the grease, and good, dense texture.
And don't expect to see the "serious facelift" on this Food Network program. Flay and his crew shot in May, well before the place was renovated…and about two months (rather than three days) before the place actually opened. For those who know the old Parky's, you'll see that Big Guys has made some a number of upgrades (new siding, redesigned service areas, and there's no longer residential space above the restaurant, a hallmark of Parky's old layout). Still, this is no fancypants sit-down place; Big Guys maintains the Parky's tradition of stand-n-eat.
All sausages come with fresh-cut fries, and we suggest you request them "BG" – which means they flip the fries in butter and garlic before serving. Yves-Pierre Romeus, the man at the fry station, boasted, "I'm the best BG'er around – the trick is, I let them sit after I mix the fries up with the sauce." Surprisingly, the fries were still crisp despite their time in the sauce. You should probably not eat too many of these, but you will enjoy the ones you do eat.
I asked Joe Rodriguez, who was working the counter Saturday night, about his best sellers, and he told me that, oddly, it's the pork chop sandwich, rather than sausages, that top the list of customer preferences. Rodriguez added, "We also sell out of soup all the time," and indeed the evening we were there, the bacon beer cheese soup was already gone.
Although it's undoubtedly a bump to get exposure on Food Network during the first month of operation, Big Guys owner/former Oak Parker (current Berwynite) Brendan O'Connor told me that "Food Network was supposed to be sending out press releases, but so far we've seen nothing. And part of the deal is we're not allowed to contact local media, newspapers and so on."
During the grand opening screening of "3 Days to Open," Big Guys will be offering free hot dogs to those under 12 who come with an adult who buys an adult meal. There will also be half-price beer next door at 12th Street Rag, a tavern which seems to exist in a kind of symbiosis with the neighboring sausage stand.
"We get a load of business after midnight," Rodriguez told me. "Friday night, we had a rush at 2:30AM, right after the bars close."
Big Guys Sausage Stand
7021 Roosevelt Road
Berwyn, IL 60402