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57. Old Chicago

Classification: Franchise

Location: Roseville, Minnesota

Those of you from the Twin Cities area are probably familiar with Dick Enrico, founder and proprietor of 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment. He was a fixture on TV and radio ads for decades, and from all appearances, has enjoyed a nice run as a good citizen, entrepreneur, and local B-list celebrity. His motto of "Why buy new when slightly used will do?" is guaranteed to resonate with anyone with access to a car radio or late-night re-runs between 1990 and 2015. But let's come back to Dick in a moment.

It was in the late stages of the 70s/early 80s when the deep dish/pan pizza craze hit its apex, and I was swept up in its fury. Like most, I've since moved along from it, instead resorting to more traditional formations, but on occasion, the pan pizza really hits the spot. And just like a flat pizza, not all deep dishes are the same. In fact, I draw a significant distinction between a true Chicago-style, a Detroit-style, and a franchised version like Old Chicago. I like Old Chicago. LIKE. For the purposes of this illustration, Old Chicago pizza is Dick Enrico: "Why buy true Chicago deep-dish, when this lesser-grade imitation will suffice?" And often, this has been been a completely logical course of action to take. Old Chicago is suitable, even enjoyable, but it suffers from comparison to original Chicago deep-dish.

As I hinted at earlier, on the surface Dick Enrico appears to be a hard-working, feel-good, success story—sort of an everyman's hero. But in his closest comparison, like the everyman that he embodies, he falls a bit short. That's what happen when you're constantly compared to your older brother Roger, who as you might know, was President and CEO of one of the world's largest corporations, PepsiCo. Roger makes his millionaire brother look like kind of a schlub--just like Old Chicago.

I never bought any used exercise equipment from Dick, but I wish I had, so in his honor, I'll enjoy a night out at Old Chicago when I'm in the neighborhood. And I'll chase it with an ice-cold Coca-Cola. Thank you, Old Chicago, and thank you, Dick Enrico. (7 of 10 stars)

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