Off the Chain: The Full Belly Café - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Off the Chain: The Full Belly Café

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Another dream was strangled in the city today. Strangled with municipal red tape by a tone-deaf bureaucracy.

Another person who invested her life savings chasing the grandeur of a Detroit long ago is broke.

Another abandoned building is coming soon.

"I feel like I've been raped," said Isabelle Gaddie , a brassy little thing who, at 67, still cuts the feminine figure of the cabaret singer she used to be. "I feel violated. I spent money I didn't have to spend doing a job the city was supposed to do. And in the end they call me the criminal. I'm gone."

Ms. Gaddie's long story made short goes something like this: she wanted to open a classy little supper club, bring some dignity and good cooking to the east side. At 5041 Nevada. Across from the Northeastern District police precinct. The bloodiest ZIP code in America.

She poured $100,000 into an abandoned beer and wine shop. Remodeled and remade it into a dream. The Full Belly Café. She sings, cooks, waitresses. She even serves Oysters Rockefeller.

Crazy. Yes, she admits that.

"I thought I could bring something elegant to the people, someplace with dignity for them to go.

"My mama said, what makes you think you can push a great big old city like that? Maybe she was right."

Because when Ms. Gaddie was ready to open, the city still hadn't removed the mattresses and appliances and rotting shoes from the alley.

"May," she said. "They always promised May. Then six Mays went by and it took it upon myself."

She paid to have the garbage piled into a mound at the end of the block next to some abandoned homes. That would make it easy for the city, she figured.

Then a cop ticketed her for illegally dumping.

Feeling awful about it, Ms. Gaddie paid $1,250 to have it hauled away. End of story right?

Wrong. (See LeDuff report from Thursday, including video of the restaurant and a conversation with Ms. Gaddie)

Ms. Gaddie prayed Friday morning, then walked into court, hoping the judge would throw out the ticket. Instead, Hearing Officer Anthony Jackson threw the book at her. She was fined $1,050 and has 28 days to pay.

Basically, she will pay $2,300 for a job the city should have performed, while some burglar somewhere gets probation.

So now, what was once a good story turns out bad.

"I don't even have the $900 for the gas bill," she sobbed.

If it is even possible to say it, the city gets worse while the mayor prattles on about the improvements made by his administration.

In his State of the City speech this week, Mayor Dave Bing announced his latest initiative to clean up those fetid lots and alleys by allowing residents to buy city-owned vacant lots next to their property for a mere $200.

That's nice and it got a lot of national press. Problem is, the program is at least a year old.

Look here. Page 5: CLICK HERE>>

"Making our city more business-friendly is equally as important as improving our neighborhoods," Bing told the assembled dignitaries. "Small businesses run by entrepreneurs continue to emerge and are changing the conversation about the way we do business in the City of Detroit."

Nice words, Mr. Mayor. But tell it to Ms. Gaddie. And try her salmon croquettes. To die for.

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