Much to learn from Johnnie’s Beef
Updated: October 4, 2012 4:11PM
When someone says to me, as they frequently have during this presidential election year, that government should be run like a business, I usually ask, “Like the business where you work?”
The invariable answer is, “No. My place is run by idiots,’’ followed by a lengthy and angry dissertation on all the venal, exploitative and just plain dumb things the people do who run that company.
So, if most people aren’t confident in the way the business for which they work is run, what business is it that government should be run like?
How about Johnnie’s? Maybe government should be run like Johnnie’s.
I’m talking about Johnnie’s Beef, the Italian beef and sausage stand at 7500 W. North Ave. in Elmwood Park.
Italian beef lovers know the place I’m talking about.
Johnnie’s is an amenity-less little building: no seats, except for a few picnic tables around the side; small menu of beef, sausage, hot dogs, fries, lemon ice and soft drinks; checks and credit cards not accepted.
What Johnnie’s has is great Italian beef and sausage.
I don’t want to get in a fight with you. You might have a place that you think makes the best Italian beef. I’m happy for you.
But I have been eating Italian beef all over Chicago and the suburbs for decades, and Johnnie’s beef is my absolute favorite.
It’s the favorite of many other people, too. There always is a long line snaking out the door at Johnnie’s. People are willing to stand in line outside to buy Johnnie’s beef and/or sausage.
Why are people willing to do this? It’s simple: Johnnie’s offers an excellent product at a fair price. So, people come.
Now, I’m not suggesting that government should start selling Italian beef.
But in its focus on essentials, with its commitment to serving the public well, Johnnie’s has a lot to teach government.
In fact, more than government could learn from Johnnie’s.
Businesses could learn from Johnnie’s. Offer consumers an excellent product at a fair price and do it simply.
Do this, and we will come.
And, honest, I have no vested interest in Johnnie’s, other than as a line-waiting consumer.