Jim's Original was started by a European immigrant 75 years ago on the corner of Halsted and Maxwell Streets.
When I attended UIC in 1971, I would catch the Halsted bus at Archer Avenue. The bus always smelled of onions. I later learned the smell came from Jim's Original and people eating his Polish sausage or pork chop sandwiches with grilled onions on the bus.
Later, in my carousing days, Jim's was one of the last stops on the way home. Back then, home was where you went when there was no place else to go.
Jim's never closed.
Just after 4 a.m. the corner of Maxwell and Halsted was crowded with Jim's customers. Some standing in line, some trying to stand in line, and others eating sandwiches. Either the famous Polish, the pork chop sandwich, or hotdogs.
The area was always safe because cops from all over the city would be stopping by to grab sandwiches.
There was a certain ambiance eating outdoors in all kinds of weather. The glow of the street lamps, the vacant lots, the rats running around, and the denizens of the Maxwell street area trying to hustle a dollar off drunken people eating.
An old time police officer told me this tale about Jim's. Evidently there was a fire hydrant on that corner. Some new sergeant decided to write the place up. There was some obscure ordinance about stands or stalls being close to fire hydrants.
Two things allegedly happened. The sergeant was moved out of the district and the fire hydrant was moved away from Jim's.
It was said the two busiest days at Jim's were New Years Eve and for some reason, Mother's Day.
After 62 years, Jim's was forced to move from their original location due to gentrification. Jim's moved to 1250 S. Union, two blocks away.
Jim's is still the same. You order and eat outside or in your car. The ambiance is different. You have a choice of two views, depending on which way you face. Face east and you view the Dan Ryan Expressway. Face north and you have the Ryan and the skyline.
I ordered the Polish. A 100% beef sausage on a steamed hotdog bun topped with mustard, grilled onions, and two sport peppers. I had a pop to wash it down.
The sandwich was the exact way I remembered it from the last time I was at the original place on Halsted, before they closed. It was great. Jim's may have changed locations, but their food is the same.
There is a reason Jim's has been in business for 75 years. Consistency. Nothing changes. Good food fast at low prices. My lunch came in at just under six bucks. Can't beat that.
There was a well dressed man next to me doing the Chicago lean so he would not get any food on his clothing or shoes.
The Chicago lean is easy. Depending on your girth you take one or a couple of two three steps back from the counter. Then you lean in and eat. Food, mustard, or juices fall to the ground.
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