A few months ago, I committed a Chicago sin: I admitted that I put ketchup on my hot dog. Horror of horrors. My original post brought to light the history of the Chicago-style hot dog, a Depression-era meal created by Fluky's. But there are plenty of other famous hot dog stands throughout Chicago, so here's more information about them for this week's 'Did You Know, Chicago?'"
When Larry Gold opened the Wiener Circle in 1983, it was just a regular hot dog place. But when Larry called a drunk an asshole to get his attention, the restaurant began to develop its culture of abuse. In the years since the abuse has escalated, largely because the mainly black staff has been provoked by the white/wealthy/drunk as hell clientele. And, of course, I'm sure you've heard about the Wiener Circle reality show. It's absolutely terrible.
Known for the giant hot dog speared on a fork on the restaurant's roof, the first Wolfies opened in 1967 at 2734 W. Peterson Avenue. I read that the original owner, Mickey Becker was the brother-in-law of Abe Drexler, but I'm not 100 percent sure that's true. Today, the spot is owned by Peter Romas, and he even opened a second location in Lombard.
Maurie and Flaurie Berman opened Superdawg in May of 1948 on the corner of Milwaukee, Devon and Nagle. Maurie was the one who put the two 12-foot hot dog people on the roof of the restaurant. Back then, Milwaukee and Devon was the end of the streetcar line and a very successful attraction for families and children. The menu hasn't changed much over the years, and Superdawg is still run by Maurie, Flaurie, their children and grandchildren.
It's hard to believe that Dick Portillo founded this hot dog empire in a small trailer in 1963. Known as The Dog House, it was located at North Avenue in Villa Park and cost Portillo $1,100. It didn't even have running water! The Dog House got a makeover in 1966 and was renamed Portillo's. More and more locations have been opened over the years, each with a different themed decor. Today, the Portillo Restaurant Group is the largest privately owned restaurant company in the Midwest.
What are some of your favorite hot dog spots?
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