LINCOLN PARK — Big Bob & Fritzy's has opened across the street from Lincoln Park High School with a fresh take on fast food and ambitions to take it much further.
"This is my cuisine," said Robert Magiet, a Bucktown resident who's the hands-on cook in a partnership with John Fritz Konstantelos, a longtime Miller Beer distributor and natural-born Chicago raconteur.
They've taken the old Brothers Beef location at 723 W. Armitage Ave. and remodeled it, but the emphasis is even more on the freshness of the food, not the decor.
"There's nothing in our freezer," Konstantelos said. "We don't have frozen chicken fingers you drop in a deep fryer. Everything has to be fresh."
Magiet has set the menu, with everything possible made by hand. They cut their own fries from Idaho potatoes and bread their own chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks. Even the macaroni and cheese is made fresh to order, which makes it a little less fast, but much better as food.
"We don't have a huge tub of mac and cheese that we just scoop out and say, 'Here ya go,' " Magiet said. "We don't have anything pre-made or pre-frozen. Everything is made fresh here in house."
The menu includes Chicago staples like hot dogs, Italian beef and burgers. Magiet cites the double Big Bob with cheese at $7.50 and says, "I don't think there's a better value in the city of Chicago." But it also strays further afield to the aforementioned mac and cheese and a beer-battered cod sandwich.
It's his dream of what fast food could and should be, developed over a career that saw him start out in his parents' Polish deli and move on through the usual Jimmy John's, Potbelly and Boston Market outlets until he was most recently running Fatso's Last Stand in Wicker Park.
Konstantelos helped set him up with his own place, in what really amounts to an extended-family business. "I been going out with his sister for many years," he said.
Longtime sports-radio listeners might recall Konstantelos from his regular "Fritzy's Night on the Town" segment on Mike North's show on WSCR-AM. He was also the subject of an extended profile in the Reader 17 years ago.
Now, however, he's launching Big Bob & Fritzy's, with ambitions to make the new restaurant the flagship in a fleet of outlets.
"We're looking to build a brand, open up more locations," Magiet said.
Konstantelos, who lives in Budlong Woods, added that he's already got a site in Morton Grove picked out, and they hope to open outlets in other Chicago neighborhoods as business builds.
The current location sets the blueprint, with a dining room that can be opened to the outdoors via a couple of garage doors, and they're working on getting a permit for a sidewalk cafe as well.
But even though Konstantelos is a beer distributor, don't expect the restaurant to serve alcohol at any point. Lincoln Park High School across the street might supply it with a steady stream of customers in the afternoon, but it also makes a liquor license impossible.
Big Bob & Fritzy's has been open for more than a month, but a grand-opening celebration is set for Saturday and Sunday, when char dogs will be $2 and single Big Bob burgers $3.