BERWYN – A year ago, they were just a bunch of guys bouncing around a kitchen trying to live a dream. Now, the Big Guys are the Sausage Kings of Roosevelt Road.
Big Guys Sausage stand, 7021 W. Roosevelt Road, opened July 13, 2012 with a bang when the Big Guys were featured that week on the Food Network's "Three Days to Open With Bobby Flay."
But it's one thing to open a restaurant; it's a whole other thing to keep it open.
The Big Guys are owner Brendan O'Connor, and his friends Joe Petruczenko, Jim Sciaccotta and Yves-Pierre Romeus. With the exception of Petruczenko, who worked in the catering business, none of the others had any experience in the food industry.
Under the watchful eye of Flay, they first learned how much they didn't know about the restaurant business. Flay gave them a crash course that put them on the right course.
And business is good, O'Connor said.
"I'm happy we could keep the lights on and everybody likes the food," O'Connor said. "We employ 12 people, eight full-time, I'm proud of that."
Most of the sausage was provided by a gourmet sausage maker when they started.
We started out making [only] a couple of sausages, now we make most of it," O'Connor said. "We've learned a lot. It's difficult to get it right and consistent."
The stand now make their own bratwurst, cheddar brat, chipotle sausage, Italian chicken sausage, buffalo chicken sausage, crawfish sausage and they offer a Sausage of the Week.
Romeus said there have been tremendous changes over the year. The menu has expanded to include staples such as burgers and other sandwiches like pot roast, ham, BBQ brisket, pork chops, prime rib a grilled shrimp Po Boy. They even have a lamb sausage.
And, of course, no Chicago area sandwich stand is not complete without a hotdog and Chicago Polish.
"People really love the crayfish sausage and buffalo chicken sausage," Romeus said. "The butter garlic french fries are a huge hit."
The Big Guys are now offering sausage frozen for those who want to do some grilling at home too.
Sciaccotta, the sausage maker of the group, said he did a little bit of everything before becoming a cased meat specialist and found his niche.
"When people like something you made yourself, it's rewarding and a lot of fun," he said.