As predicted, 'da hoes' have arrived on South Marion St. in Oak Park

Poor Phil's owner says business ain't bad and neither are his ads

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

It's not often that you see not-so-subtle references to asses and 'hoes' in a newspaper ad, depending on what publication you fancy. But an Oak Park restaurant is pulling out all the stops, trying to drum up attention during a months-long construction project on its block.

Poor Phil's Bar & Grill, 139 S. Marion St., has been open for more than 30 years. But it's never seen the street shut down the way it is now, said owner Dennis Murphy. Oak Park just got started earlier this month on a $5.5 million construction project — adding brick streets, granite sidewalks and an overhead canopy of decorative lights — that will keep the street shut down to traffic until November.

Murphy was searching for a way to captivate and steer patrons over to Poor Phil's, particularly the young crowd. So last month, he placed a newspaper ad proclaiming that "da hoes is comin!" to South Marion, and "da hoes gona start workin' marion street," also making note of the 100 beers they have available.

The ad is actually referring to the backhoe construction vehicles that would soon be trolling up and down Marion, but the racier connotation was, of course, intentional.

"People can make of it what they want," said Murphy, who claims they've only heard one gripe about the ads. "I've gotten nothing but compliments from anyone who cared to say anything about it."

A few weeks later, they ran another newspaper ad, proclaiming "kiss my asphalt goodbye!" and "I'm gonna lose my asphalt this summer!" Murphy is brainstorming for the next one, which may say something along the lines of "Marion holes? Buck 'em!" urging customers to leap over any of the big craters in the street. They also have staffers wearing construction vests dubbing them as the "Village pub, grub and suds department."

Murphy, 69, was frightened of the construction's possible impact, but said so far business has been steady.

"My worst fears about this project have not materialized, thank goodness, and I'm really quite pleased with the way business has held up ever since this thing began," he said. "It really scared the pants off me. I didn't know what to expect."

The South Marion Business Association just submitted a marketing plan to village hall last week, requesting about $37,000 in assistance, helping to keep attention on the street. Those include $3,000 for a billboard, $7,000 for discounted valet parking and $10,000 for newspaper ads. And much of the marketing could come from donated support, said Mary Jo Schuler, president of the business association and an owner of Greenline Wheels and the Marion Street Cheese Market.

"It is our goal to derive maximum benefit from every dollar by supplementing it with a lot of elbow grease and in-kind skill and talent," she said.

The village board is expected to take up the plan soon, possibly next week, according to Business Services Manager Loretta Daly. But she said it's likely that village hall would support such a plan.

"We recognize that, whenever we do construction in an area, there's a direct effect," she said. "We want to be as supportive as we possibly can be of anything that's going to help mitigate that."

Crews have finished removing the pavement and breaking up the sidewalks on South Marion, and are now moving to replace a 90-year-old water main under the street, according to Village Engineer Jim Budrick. He expects the work to wrap up on schedule, by Thanksgiving.

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Posted: June 24th, 2011 10:38 AM

Talk about a great time to shut down for renovations. Timing couldn't have been any better.

Phil of Good Ideas  

Posted: June 24th, 2011 10:28 AM

Forget the unfunny ads (my four year old finds the word 'butt' hilarious, too), the flags outside the bar are really tacky. is it a bar or a used car lot? His crowd doesnt need them to know he is open, do they?


Posted: June 24th, 2011 10:10 AM

Jerry, Whens the last time you visited Oak Park?

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix, AZ  

Posted: June 24th, 2011 2:12 AM

Yeah, we've mined this lode about as much as we can. Personally, I'm not much of a drinker. Once in a while a short beer while I'm waiting for my order at Russell's.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 9:40 PM

I guess we should wrap it up, Jerry. You and I will just have to agree to disagree on this issue. If you are planning a visit to Oak Park, be sure to stop in Poor Phil's and let Dennis Murphy know how you have battled on his behalf. Also, check a really fine local watering hole, The Ale House on Oak Park Ave.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix, AZ  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 9:36 PM

I still consider Oak Park to be my home town. You got a problem with that?


Posted: June 23rd, 2011 9:11 PM

why are people from Arizona piping in about Poor Phil's advertising and community standards?

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix, AZ  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 8:27 PM

Unlike you, I don't pretend to be omnicient. It could be other businesses haven't followed Murphy's lead because they agree with you (Oh, the humanity). However it could be because they didn't think of it or because the kind of advertising Murphy's been using is appropriate for his business and clientele and not for a lady's dress shop. And since I don't know the man I have no comments on your character assassination except to say I consider it an abject intellectual surrender.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 7:32 PM

Others may have said they will not patronize Dennis Murphy's business. I did not post a response of that nature. Each individual is free to decide whether to support him or not. It's clear that you and Dennis Murphy consider his ads to be a clever. Do you understand why other businesses would never employ those crass and cruel words to promote their products? It would be bad business. Don't confuse Dennis Murphy with Lenny Bruce. He's just a hustler trying to sell booze and a nasty man.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix, AZ  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 7:07 PM

Let's try again. The standard for tossing the First Amendment out the window is not "that which offends you," or even me. You've expressed your opinion about his ads and said you wouldn't patronize is business. What more do you propose? Under the circumstances, I think he's come up with some clever advertising. It's not like he's got the budget to hire BBD&O. So the question is: when he "crosses the line," what do you want to do about it? Fines? Loss of liquor licesne? Flogging?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 6:59 PM

Jerry, that doesn't make sense. Do you really think it is appropriate for Dennis Murphy to have his fun without considering the implications? It's okay with you if Murphy chooses next to mock people of color,homeless vets, the disabled, or abused women? I am not seeing a reasoned thought process involved in your stated position. Dennis Murphy is a businessman who sees his ads as good for business. Yet, no other companies employ such mean-spirited humor to promote their products. Why is that?

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix, AZ  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 6:56 PM

Jim, of course "it's not a First Amendment issue to me." It's an issue of somebody saying something with which you disagree and you wanting to shut him up. Nothing First Amendment about that. I'm guessing you're nostalgic for the "Fairness Doctrine" too. LOL

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix, AZ  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 6:45 PM

How can I possibly "draw the line" for something not yet written or published? It's called prior censorship. And like all censors, I'm betting you'd deny you were one. In one of his films, WC Fields poked gentle fun at a blind man who was wrecking his store. Would you prohibit that because it's "making fun of the handicapped?" There are plenty of things which Murphy MIGHT do that would offend me. However, I'm still not prepared to set myself up as Oak Park's First Amendment arbitor.

Facebook Verified  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 6:37 PM

Jerry we get it. Now back on topic. Not much going on in Az?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 6:37 PM

Hey,Jerry. You indicated that you were willing to engage in an adult discussion. I asked you to be specific regarding where the line should drawn with Dennis Murphy's ads? Rather than brand me as a crusader; how about answering my questions? Anything off-limits? This is not a 1st amendment issue for me. I just find Dennis Murphy to be lacking in decency and compassion. He certainly has struck a chord with some members of the community. They are 100% in his corner. Not me.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix, AZ  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 5:57 PM

Lulz, you've gotten me fired up. And you evidently know much less about OPRF as you think. In common usage for decades, it was referred to as Oak Park High School Notice, no RF's on the monograms (check out the large one on the south end of the field house) and no RF's in the fight song: "We're loyal to you, Oak Park High." And the "I was graduated" was a reference to Louis Fritmeir's annual speech to the seniors about the correct usage of the phrase. I'm betting you didn't know that.

Another OP resident from Oak Park  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 5:36 PM

YAY, POOR PHIL'S!!!! Ho-ho-ho, hee-hee-hee, and a couple of fah-lah-lahs; that's how we laugh the day away in the merry old land of ours.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix, AZ  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 5:36 PM

Back in the old days it was common to refer to Oak Park High School. The OPRF came later, ask any old timer. Let me ask you Lulz, assuming you're serious and assuming it's important, what would convince you? I lived in the 900 block of Fair Oaks Avenue, went to Hatch School, Ken Lund lived across the street, Ed and Zelda Zembel lived in the 800 block of Fair Oaks. I sang in the youth choir at Fair Oaks Presbyterian. Chuck Casek was replaced as head football coach by Orrie Noth. Troll away.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 5:30 PM

We have little choice but to play by the WJ's rules. If Dan Haley wants open access to the NRA and Catholic Church Reformer he can. It is his paper. Of course, we have the right to not post or reply to out of state organizations that are using the WJ for their own purposes. That the route I will take.


Posted: June 23rd, 2011 5:24 PM

I've always been suspect of real "hoing " going on in and around Marion and Pleasant. Stay tuned. It doesnt take much to see it in action

Don "Magic" Juan  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 5:06 PM

sorry people, don't be trippin' on Don's grammer, typing too quick. Again, best wishes Mr Murphy and poor phils staff

Don "Magic" Juan  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 5:04 PM

feel free to take my ho's, this is don magic juan checking in, maybe I'll set up shop with my ho's at that fancy motor lodge down the way... Lighten up people, the fact that people think Dennis Murphy is exploiting, yadda, yadda, yadda are crazy. Ask this guys employees about him, lots of his workers have been there forever, so he must not be that bad of a guy. Once again, this goes to show that too many people have too many time on their hands... Good Luck to you Poor Phils!

epic lulz  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 4:57 PM

"I was graduated from Oak Park HS" LMAO. Nice try, carpetbagger, but someone from Oak Park would know that there is no "Oak Park HS". Really, Dan Haley, there is no sense in out-of-state trolls with too much time on their hands messing around in a local community debate, when they don't know or care about the community or our values. I appreciate that you like the hits, but it diminishes the value of WJ as a community forum to allow this guy (under various names) to dominate the discussion.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 4:47 PM

I agree. Murphy has a right to advertise any way he wants within reason. I don't see his ads as offensive; tasteless yes; offensive no. No question that those offended can just find other places to eat. I personally don't plan on eating there again -- that's what choice is all about.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix, AZ  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 4:25 PM

You don't like Murphy's ads. You probably think they're vulgar. Okay so far. But you ignore a culture saturated in sexual words and images (an 8 year old can find pornography in a few keystrokes) to deliver pompous moralizing about the evils of prostitution because of this? Given that you've just sung a chorus of the PC Hit Parade, I'm guessing that your solution to the "problem" is to curtail Murphy's First Amendment rights. And you'd be the guy with the pitchfork, wouldn't you?

OP resident too from Oak Park  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 3:41 PM

@ Another OP resident- I have a big nose and I am offended.Personal opinions about the tastefulness of the ads aside, Murphy is taking a risk that may cost him customers or may bring more people in. He's doing it without whining, complaining or asking for a Village handout. He's doing what business owners should do when times are tough, and that is commendable. BTW, nothing he says or does will in any way impact global exploitation of women.

Another OP resident from Oak Park  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 3:10 PM

We LOVE Poor Phil's for many reasons! We don't CARE if their humor offends some - there's no pleasing everyone. Short joke: Q. Why did the nose feel bad? A. Because it wasn't picked! No doubt this joke offends the noseless and those with unusually-shaped noses. BUT IT'S STILL FUNNY TO MOST OF US!!!

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 1:21 PM

Thanks for joining the discussion, Dan. Your input and insight would be most helpful. I wonder if anything about Dennis Murphy's ads concern you. Is this all just good fun and should I lighten up with my criticism? My concerns relate to the horrors of prostitution and an apparent lack of compassion by Dennis Murphy and his fans. No one is questioning whether out-of-towners should be posting on this forum and I would rather engage in a spirited debate. Personal attacks are a distraction.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 1:10 PM

I was just asking, Jerry. You're a former OP-RF grad who was just keeping up the news of your hometown and thought to respond to my comment regarding Dennis Murphy's ad campaign. Fair enough. Tell me if this doesn't cross the line; what does? Okay if his clever choice of words relates to a person of color? How about a jab at gay people? Poking fun of the disabled? Trying for laughs at the expense of homeless vets? Share your thoughts on how far Dennis Murphy should go to promote his business.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 1:02 PM

My apology to Jerry Hudson and Phoenix.

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 12:59 PM

Folks-- It is called the World Wide Web for a reason. People from Arizona are welcome to post here. People suggest I'm sort of parochial having published a neighborhood newspaper for 31 years. But people who live west of Harlem Avenue can join in. What worries me here is the tendency of some of us to turn on other commenters in a personal way. That's not the way this is supposed to work. So, please, lighten up. Dan

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 12:47 PM

To live in Phoenix and accuse someone of having a narrow mind is the height of hypocrisy.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix, AZ  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 12:39 PM

The last refuge of someone who has nothing to say and keeps saying it at the top of his lungs is ad hominem argumentation. Furthermore it's clear the only thing "fishy" around here is your "logic." Yup, I'm part of some giant conspiracy to make you look bad. Why bother, you're doing an excellent job of that without my help.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix, AZ  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 12:35 PM

I usually don't respond to people who withhold their names. But: 1. I have no connection whatsoever with Gary Peter Klahr, not even aware if he's still alive. 2. I was graduated from Oak Park HS (thank you Louis Fritzmeier). Perhaps now you'd like to resume this discussion on something approaching an adult basis. Or do you have some additional red herrings to trot out?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 12:14 PM

Come on, Jerry. Trotting out a Hemingway rip against his hometown has nothing to do with this discussion. Oak Park has changed a lot since that charge was relevant. I don't understand why you are so supportive of this ad campaign. Of course, Dennis Murphy's free to offer his "humorous" approach. But,the message is offensive and cruel. I'm speaking as a resident of Oak Park. What brings you to the table? You were on this within 1 hour of my initial comment. That's a little fishy!

OP Resident  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 11:42 AM

Hey, Jerry. What's your connection with Gary Klahr? He's also a Phoenix resident posting comments on this forum. Were you, like Gary. a childhood radio star? It cannot be a coincedence that both of you just stumbled upon these pages. Fess up, Jerry!


Posted: June 23rd, 2011 11:40 AM

How about a fundraiser at P P for girls of the night once the street is back open. Win Win. I do think Dennis needs to put "some" money back into the place. It is getting quite stale. Take a page from Fox and update.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix, AZ  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 2:29 AM

Mr. Coughlin, and his monomaniacal rants about one small business in Oak Park, Illinois aren't going to impact the plight of victimized women and girls one bit. In fact, making such a big deal about this trivial matter is likely to produce the opposite effect. There are whole countries in Asia whose economies are substantially based on sex tourism. And what is Mr. Couglin doing about it? Whining about a bar in Oak Park. I keep flashing on what Hemmingway said: wide lawns and narrow minds.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 10:54 PM

Clever? How about shameful? Cruel? Insensitive? Sexist? Ignorant? There are plenty of words that apply to this ad campaign but "clever" is sure the heck is not one of them. His "fan" worries about Dennis Murphy losing his outdoor business while he mocks the plight of poor and abused women. Young girls forced to work the streets should not be a punchline for a guy just interested in selling drinks. Today is the anniversary of George Carlin's death. I doubt he would see any humor in these ads.

Poor Phil's fan from Oak Park  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 10:26 PM

I love Poor Phil's and I think that Dennis Murphy is making the best of a tough situation - he's going to lose a lot of outdoor business this summer but instead of griping about it, he's turning it into clever advertising. Good for him.

T.J. from OP  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 8:31 PM

The bar is about as dirty as its advertisement. I would expect nothing less from this place.

Revoluci?acInnes from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 6:49 PM

This is a massive waste of time and money. Madison St needs revitalized not the already posh Marion street. this is all about ass kissing politics.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 6:12 PM

As you raise a glass to toast Dennis Murphy for his "humor", please take a moment and think about the 11-13 year old girls who are forced into prostitution. The violence,threats and forced drug use they endure is not a joke. There nothing funny about children being exploited and abused. Maybe Murphy didn't think about this cruelty when he dreamed up this ad. But will still have his "fun" at the expense of another's nightmare. Shameful.

Another OP resident  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 5:56 PM

WE LOVE POOR PHIL'S and their sense of humor is right on! Don't tone it down. People who don't get it can go where things are sanitized to their satisfaction-shmaction.

Bobby Dixon from Oak Park  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 4:14 PM

Great play on words. It was played right to even get the Journal to pick up the story. That's great publicity and free media coverage always ads to it. Now everyone will want to come in and check out the servers construction wear. Maybe slap kiss my asphalt on the backside of the workers. For the bigger than usual workers, consider wide load as an option. Any drunks that need to leave can be told, hit the bricks. Of course when this project is completed.

editor from Any town  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 4:09 PM

If businesses want money to advertise to help business, will businesses pay a percentage of the increased profits they receive from the benefit of a newly developed business district? Money should go both ways, instead of just one way out of taxpayers.

Blake from Oak Park  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 2:20 PM

This just reminds me how much I love Poor Phil's... I will continue going there regularly. Good for you Mr. Murphy - I support your movement to get the hoes outta OP. Can we please finish Roosevelt now?

Brad from Oak Park  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 1:08 PM

I've never been to Poor Phil's, but I've always wanted to stop by. I'll cross this off my list now. I can't in good conscious give money to an establishment owned by someone with such a meatball, ignorant, classless mindset that he would think running ads with this type of "humor" would be appropriate. Why on earth would anything want to support a restaurant trying to advertise like this? An apology and retraction would be a wise decision now, but that doesn't rectify a really poor choice.


Posted: June 22nd, 2011 12:28 PM

OMG! Wow! I agree with Mr. Coughlin. Incredibly poor taste...

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 11:12 AM

Witless is more like it, Jerry.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix, AZ  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 2:17 AM

For heaven's sake, give the man a break. He's using a little wit to help his business survive a challenging time. Mr. Coughlin should save his sermons for Sunday and dial back a bit on the self righteousness--it'll go right to his hips.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 1:24 AM

Yuck! Nothing funny or cute about this "play" on words. Having a silly bit of fun at the expense of exploited and victimized women is in really bad taste. And to promote a restaurant, no less. What was Dennis Murphy thinking? I suggest he spend his time learning about the hellish lives of these vulnerable and abused people. "Pretty Woman" was a movie. Real life is full of pain, violence and danger. Anything for a buck is no excuse. Shameful.

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