The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Chicago Hamburger History Uncovered in Wicker Park Rehab

By Alisa Hauser | March 28, 2013 6:04am

WICKER PARK — Tacos on the northeast corner of Ashland Avenue and Division Street are being replaced with ... tacos.

Division Street staple Picante Taqueria will be opening up a second outpost at 1141 N. Ashland Ave., in a tiny booth that housed La Pasadita for more than 35 years, a source confirmed Wednesday.

A work permit went up March 25 describing the "repair/replacement" of 50 ceramic tiles.

Normally, a work permit would not command much attention. However, a social media stir erupted earlier this month when the removal of paint from the facade of the former Mexican restaurant that closed in January revealed a glimpse of Chicago history.

Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) referred to a vintage sign advertising 5-cent hamburgers as "fascinating" in a recent e-newsletter and provided information from city historian Tim Samuelson. 

The former La Pasadita space was once home to a shop called Snappy Service System, built in the early 1930s. A competitor to the White Castle chain, Snappy's featured "a gleaming white terra cotta exterior," Samuelson said.

According to Moreno's e-newsletter, "The terra cotta was manufactured by the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company in Chicago, a firm that created the exteriors for many of Chicago's most famous structures — including the most famous terra cotta building of them all — the Wrigley Building."

Matt Bailey, a spokesman for Moreno, said he was unsure if Picante will be preserving the exterior.

"We think it's cool and a great piece of history for the neighborhood. If there's not a way to preserve on the outside maybe on the inside, but that's up to the owner," Bailey said.

David Espinoza, Sr., owner of La Pasadita, which has two other locations on the west side of Ashland opposite his family's original outpost, remembers when his father painted over the white Snappy exterior in the 1970s.

"He painted over the white because it said hamburgers and we were tacos," Espinoza said.

Espinoza confirmed that Picante is coming into the space, as did a source who wished not to be named, who told DNAinfo.com Chicago that the outpost will be the taqueria's second location.

"I met the owner, he was very nice and did say he's from Picante. He said it's going to be a Mexican-style place but different than ours," Espinoza said. 

Espinoza added: "We wish him the best. We'll just do our our thing on this side [of the street]."

Felipe Caro, the owner of Picante and Delish Diner, was unable to be reached.