Wednesday, April 4, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
For Frank Sangiacomo, the second-generation owner of Mickey’s Drive-In, 635 Mannheim Rd. in Bellwood, the reason the restaurant has been around since 1959 is simple.
“Our secret to success is we give people good food, good service and a fair price — and that’s what we’ve continued to do over 55 years,” Sangiacomo said during a YouTube video shot by Vienna Beef some years ago.
A YouTube video produced by Vienna’s Beef about Mickey’s. | YouTube
The restaurant, which was inducted into the Vienna Beef Hall of Fame in 2006, was founded by Mickey Sangiacomo, Sr., and his wife, Ann, whose dream it was to go into the hot dog-selling business.
Mickey, Sr., had bought an old ice cream store that he hoped to turn into a used car lot in Bellwood. Ann had other plans. She went to their good friend, Jimmy Faruggia, the inspiration behind the Original Jimmy’s Hot Dogs, and convinced him to talk her husband into opening a hot dog stand.
Mickey and Ann Sangiacomo with their children. | Submitted photo
“My mom said, ‘What are we going to call the place?’ My father’s name was Mickey, I was Mickey, Jr., and the label Mickey’s got put up on the sign and that’s how we started,” said Mickey, Jr. in the Vienna video.
For Frank, Mickey’s was more than a brick-and-mortar building. It was a way of life.
“Everyone in the family worked here,” he said in an interview earlier this year. “When I was young, I’d act like I was sick so I wouldn’t have to go to school. My mom would bring me here.”
The staff at Mickey’s in Bellwood, where the owners say they may do something special this year for the restaurant’s 59th birthday. | William Camargo
Frank’s sister met her husband at the restaurant. One of Mickey Jr.’s wives was an employee. His brother, Allen, met his wife at the venerable hot dog stand.
“I met both of my wives here,” Frank said. “This was our social life, but it’s also been a staple in Bellwood. We’ve been here longer than any policeman who is still on active duty. All the cops that started when we started are all gone by now.”
Jesus Aredondo, Alberto Rodriguez, and Mike Wargo, work the hot dog station as the lunch rush comes through at Mickey’s in Bellwood earlier this year. | William Camargo
Life — which would not be complete for many Bellwoodians without Mickey’s hot dogs and Italian beef — goes on.
When Mickey Sr. and Ann died, the restaurant’s survival was left in the hands of their children, who picked up where their parents left off.
Fernando Cardona display his mastery as he makes a hot dog with style at Mickey’s Drive-In in Bellwood. | William Camargo
“In the way we do business, my mother taught us how to work,” Frank said. “She would say, you do whatever you have to, no matter what it is. If you have to wash dishes, wash dishes; if you have to mop the floor, pick up a mop.”
Life and work goes on. VFP
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