(Mr. Beef, n the 600 block of Orleans, in Chicago: Midwest Bank has filed a foreclosure lawsuit to collect several hundred thousands from the restaurant.)
For those of you who do not have the privilege of living in the greatest city on this planet, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Beef. A Chicago staple in which I have had the pleasure of ingesting some of the best Italian beef sandwiches ever.
Mr. Beef's River North location opened in 1979. Joseph Zucchero, the owner of Mr. beef has one of those places that is not much on decor but more on taste. You know what I mean, greasy, fattening and just plain bad for you.
Mr. Zucchero has built a thriving business, yet he maintains that his banker, Midwest Bank, which collected about $85 million of the Treasury Department's bank bailout cash, has cut off his line of credit.
"I do not need, nor want, a bailout from the taxpayers. I only want the banks to be fair," Zucchero says in a written statement. "Many small businesses are being starved of needed lines of credit or are having their lines of credit not renewed upon maturity. Not only have I seen and heard this from a variety of small businesses, but I have personally lived this nightmare."
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, is investigating why many of the larger banks that have benefited from the bailout "have actually decreased lending to businesses.'' He is examining the lending records of large banks, and taking testimony from a community bank and a Community Development Financial Institution Fund increasing lending.
The hearing today is focusing on whether the federal program "has been successful in freeing up credit for American businesses, especially the small and medium-sized firms that are vital to the U.S. economy,'' Guiterrez's office says.
"Small business is the backbone of the American economy," Guiterrez says in a written statement. "In my home state of Illinois, more than 49 percent of the workforce is employed by small firms. Without a vibrant small business community, this recession will continue to linger. Investing in small and medium-sized firms is one of the fastest routes we can take to economic recovery."