OLD TOWN — Pop's Italian Beef & Sausage holds its grand opening in Old Town on Saturday.
Pop's, a South Side staple going back to 1980, opened its first North Side location earlier this month at 157 W. North Ave.
But starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, the first 100 customers will receive a free hot dog and fries. There will be other giveaways, including a year's worth of Italian beef, and there'll be a photo booth as well as an animal ballon artist and face painting for kids from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The festivities are expected to continue until 3 p.m.
Pop's took over the former My Fit Foods and, in the manner of any self-respecting Italian beef joint, immediately edited the word "fit" out of the awning.
But since then, over the summer, the restaurant has undergone a complete renovation under franchise owners Jill and Bill Sullivan, Old Town residents who wanted to bring Pop's to the North Side.
"It is the best," Jill Sullivan said at a preview for family and the media Wednesday evening. "I grew up with it."
Pop's founder Frank Radochonski called it "a beautiful location" and "absolutely stunning," including a fireplace corner, rock & roll artwork and a bright yellow sign reading the Pop's motto, derived from rapper Missy Elliott: "Get Your Beef On."
Lincoln Park resident John Vincent, one of the Chicago Cubs' anthem singers and a regular performer at Ditka's, 100 E. Chestnut St., was on hand Wednesday to offer up an Italian-crooner-style jingle for the new Pop's outlet, along with co-owner Jill Sullivan.
Sullivan, who said she'd been looking for years to open a fast food spot in Old Town, credited Radochonski as "a guiding light" whose expectation was that "everything be 100 percent great."
According to Radochonski, it's the 15th Pop's location, but the first on the North Side, although there's another within the city limits in Mount Greenwood.