Restaurants are shutting down faster even than newspapers these days, and Chicago institution Mr. Beef, facing possible foreclosure, could soon be one of them–despite doing what owner Joseph Zucchero says is robust business. Midwest Bank filed a foreclosure lawsuit against Zucchero and co-owner Michael Genevese last month for failure to pay off loans totaling $650,000 (some of the money from the loans went towards funding Natalino’s, which they opened last March). The owners had asked to refinance the loans after they matured in October, but the bank declined; this afternoon Zucchero was scheduled to testify at a congressional committee meeting, presenting his story as evidence that federal bailout funds are not helping small businesses.

Mark DiPietro, a copywriter who works near Mr. Beef, is such a fan of the restaurant that he’s taken it upon himself to save it. He says that Mr. Beef is a landmark–and “selfishly, I enjoy their wet, sloppy, old school beefs”–so he’s started the “Keep Mr. Beef Alive” campaign, creating a video on YouTube and a Facebook page to raise awareness of the restaurant’s situation.

He’s even gone so far as to pay out of pocket for 50 Mr. Beef sandwiches, for which he’ll distribute free coupons to the first 50 people to line up outside Mr. Beef (666 N. Orleans) tomorrow at 12:30 PM. And on Friday at 10 PM, local band Supra Genius will play a “Beef Aid Concert” at the Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont) and donate part of the door takings to the restaurant. They’re reportedly planning to debut a song called “Free to Beef You and Me.”