lockportlegend.com the Lockport Legend | January 25, 2018 | 25 Delete
26 | January 25, 2018 | The Lockport Legend dining out lockportlegend.com The Dish Pop’s Italian Beef & Sausage credits community involvement for success Jacquelyn Schlabach Assistant Editor Pop’s Italian Beef & Sausage credits its success to being involved in the communities it serves. For almost 38 years, Pop’s has continued to grow not only in locations and menu items but also in building connections with its customers. “I just feel if you’re involved in your community, and you support your community, they support you back,” said Kacie Dancy, vice president of operations at Pop’s and daughter of owner Frank Radochonski. “So, I think that’s a huge, huge reason for our success, as well as [being] a great restaurant to come to.” Pop’s has 15 locations across the suburbs, and each one is involved in its communities and sponsors various events. Dancy works at the original Pop’s location in Palos Heights and said the restaurant supports the local baseball and softball teams, sponsors reading programs at the local schools and library, and gives out coupons for free hot dogs on Halloween to children. “I truly believe that that’s why Pop’s has been around for as long as they have, and why we’ve been as successful as we have, because we’ve been so involved in the community, which is cool,” Dancy said. Other Pop’s locations, including the one in Tinley Park, has fundraiser nights for local sports teams, churches and schools, and even gives schools coupons for free hot dogs to their teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week, according to franchisee Burke Matyas. Chicken options have become more prevalent at Pop’s in recent years. “I’ve always believed in supporting the small guy,” Matyas said. “We’re a small mom and pop shop, so [it’s important] to give back to the community, knowing they support me.” Not only do customers keep coming back because of the support they receive from Pop’s but also, of course, for the staples of the restaurant. The famous Italian beef ($5.29) is sliced, cooked and served fresh daily. The beef is served on 6-inch French bread, and customers can add Pop’s homemade giardiniera or sweet peppers. “Everything that goes on [the Italian beef] I think my dad has tried really hard to pair our giardiniera and our sweet peppers to match the flavors,” Dancy said. “A lot of the same seasonings are used between the peppers and the beef, so they compliment each other really well.” Dancy also said the hot dog ($2.99) is another crowd favorite. The hot dog is Pop’s brand, and customers cannot get it the same anywhere else. The Chicago-style dog comes with Pop’s Italian Beef & Sausage • 7153 W. 127th St. in Palos Heights • 14279 S. Wolf Road in Orland Park • 9400 W. 159th St. in Orland Park • 7301 W. 183rd St. in Tinley Park • 16600 W. 159th St. in Lockport • 11336 Lincoln Highway in Mokena For more information ... Web: www.popsbeef.com tomato, relish, mustard, pickle, sport peppers and celery salt, and it is served on a seedless bun. It is the only menu item that comes wrapped in Pop’s famous french fries. “Our fries are kind of what we’re known for; fries are huge for us,” Dancy said. When Pop’s was first founded by her father and grandmother almost 38 years ago, the only items on the menu were hamburgers, hot dogs and beef sandwiches. Over the years, chicken has been incorporated into the menu, like the Pop’s Italian Beef & Sausage features its homemade giardiniera atop one of the beef sandwiches that helped make it famous. Photos by Jacquelyn Schlabach/22nd Century Media A Pop’s Italian sausage sandwich ($4.25) is pictured here with red sauce and sweet peppers. grilled chicken breast on a pita ($4.79), which is one of Dancy’s favorites. There also are six different salads from which to choose, as well as an Italian sausage ($4.25) that can come with red sauce, sweet peppers and/or au jus. Around the time of St. Patrick’s Day, the corned beef on rye ($5.19) or Reuben on rye ($5.75) become available at various franchisees, but the Palos Heights location serves them year-round. “It’s expanded into the times of what people want,” Dancy said. “It started off what [my father and grandmother] liked, and what they knew best, and then grew into what the customers wanted.” Dancy said her father has always looked for great products to serve customers. “We believed if we sold a good product and it was fresh and tasted great, then people would come, and that’s really how it’s been,” she said.