Friday, August 08, 2008

photo 28: ghost bennigan's

Bennigan's at 225 N Michigan Ave. The place settings remain on the tables: ketchup, mustard, rolled utensils, salt & pepper, drink menu. The neon beer signs are illuminated. Do I smell mozzarella sticks? No, no, shake it off, Marisa. Just my imagination. Bennigan's wheezed and coughed its last Monte Cristo on July 28, 2008 and then flatlined to that great franchise in the sky. Somebody forgot to tell this puppy dog Bennigan's that the bank took the house, and the owners drove away to cook cans of beans over a garbage can fire in hobo shantytown; yet, here it sits, tail wagging, on posh Michigan Ave waiting for the lunch crowd.

The Wegrzyn family frequented the Bennigan's in downtown Evanston on Sherman Ave (it was replaced by a fancier, more expensive Pete Miller's a long time ago). My sisters and I delighted in the variety of cheeses that Bennigan's offered (grilled or fried), the Ms Pac Man game by the bar, and the CLAW MACHINE (see photo). Every Bennigan's had an allowance-raping claw machine. And the claw didn't even work. It had claw machine Parkinson's. There was no way I was going to win that Casio calculator watch. No. Fucking. Way. But every time we went to Bennigan's, I plunked quarters into the claw machine. That's the thing about being five years old. You're really stupid, and you can't help yourself. No -- wait -- it's not stupidity. It's that bastarding irk, hope. You hope, yes, next time, the quivering claw will clamp the coveted prize. You wanna teach your kid the value of a quarter, you took 'em to the Bennigan's school of hard knocks.

I am and will always be (for the franchised, non-closed Bennigan's) a fan of the buffalo chicken sandwich*. The week before this Bennigan's shuttered, I almost ate there. Almost is never enough. Gonna write that on a slip of paper and toss it into my shoebox of regret. Sure, Bennigan's was a corporate whore, but it was a corporate whore that meant so much to me.

* I have considered writing a spin-off culinary blog dedicated to restaurants serving buffalo chicken sandwiches, similar to the blog dedicated to pancake houses in Illinois.


Security cam video of a kid climbing into a claw machine. - Watch more free videos