It was almost exactly one year ago that I posted about Big Guy’s, which had then just opened in Berwyn.

During those early days, Brendan O’Connor and crew were making only two sausages in house. Now, they have 10 homemade sausages on the menu, and according to O’Connor, “we now make all of our sausages from scratch with the exception of our hot dog and Maxwell street polish, which are Vienna products.”

If you’re a kid, you can get one of those hot dogs for free on August 10 at the Big Guy’s Block Party. If you want to drop $10, you can definitely get your money’s worth in a hot dog eating contest, which starts at 5PM (Email if you want in). The whole menu will, of course, be available during the event, and I have to say I find the hot dog (though ideal for speed-eating) to be one of the least interesting options from a culinary perspective. When you have a range of wieners like this, you really should try to branch out with a crawfish sausage, a cheddar brat, or Italian chicken (our personal favorite).

 Given that Big Guy’s plays, according to O’Connor, “rhythm and blues constantly,” they’re going to be showing “The Blues Brother” on their “east wall.”  12th Street Rag, right next store, will be offering specialty drinks.  There will also be a lot of free music as well as instrument demos for kids provided by School of Rock/Oak Park.

This block party celebrates one year in business, and O’Connor told us, “We opened with little more money than our first food order so we definitely beat the odds when it comes to undercapitalized start-up restaurants.”

I asked O’Connor if there were any surprises for him and his staff during the first year, and he said, “I was really surprised at the impact Facebook had on our business.  Sometimes I’ll have customers come in within minutes of my promoting a special on Facebook.  I think this is a good indication of how local our customer base is and how important it is to stay connected with customers.  Our customers are always pushing us to experiment and come out with new flavors of sausage to run as specials.  Some sausages get people really excited.  The two fan favorites are the turducken and lamb sausages.”

Given that Big Guy’s serves a late night crowd (they’re open until 3AM on Friday and Saturday), I asked O’Conner what it’s like at his place after midnight. He replied, “If you come in at 2AM on a Friday or Saturday night, you can expect to see at least a few cops from Chicago’s District 15, along with crowds of drinkers looking to soak up some of the libations they indulged in throughout the night. Police and fireman make up a big chunk of our business; they know good food, and they really like us.  We also have so many guys from my father’s generation. These are real ‘big guys,’ Vietnam Vets and blue collar workers who I grew up looking up to. They come in and express real appreciation for our food. That personally means a lot to me.”

The block party goes from 2PM to 2AM this coming Saturday.

Big Guy’s

7021 Roosevelt Rd  Berwyn, IL 60402
(708) 317-5213

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...