CHICAGO (CBS) — Despite the steady rain overnight, Chicagoans have been lined up for hours on the Northwest Side, to say goodbye to the iconic Hot Doug’s hot dog stand.
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports Friday is the last chance for a taste of the gourmet sausages from Hot Dog’s Encased Meats Emporium and Sausage Superstore. Owner Doug Sohn has decided to close shop for a “permanent vacation.” He said it’s time for him to move on to something else.
It’s not unusual to see a line of die-hard hot dog fans lined up outside Hot Doug’s, but even for one of the most famous hot dog stands in Chicago, waiting 26 hours for a hot dog strains credulity.
That’s how long Max Simmons will have been standing in line outside Hot Doug’s when it opens at 10:30 a.m. Friday, to get one last hot dog before it closes for good, earning him the nickname “King of the Line,” since he’ll be the first customer through the door on Friday.
As of 6 a.m., at least 100 people already were waiting to get in, and the line outside Hot Doug’s already stretched around the block. By 7:30 a.m., Hot Doug’s announced it was closing the line to any new customers. Sohn himself planned to be the final customer.
A sign on the front door Friday morning informed customers “Abandon all rights, ye who enter here. We’re filming a documentary about Hot Doug’s.”
Apparently, the hot dog stand is so popular, they’re filming “Hot Doug’s: The Movie” on the last day of business.
Customers came prepared for the rain overnight, bringing tents and umbrellas to keep relatively dry.
Josh said he’d choose Hot Doug’s over a steak dinner or the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the Hancock Center.
“Always Hot Doug’s dog, or sausage, or Andouille, bratwurst,” he said.
Gathered under a tent to shield themselves from the rain, Hot Doug’s customers made it clear it was more than the sausages and duck fat fries on the menu that brings them out; it’s also owner Doug Sohn himself.
“The fries are good, the sausages great, but our friend Doug is why we wait!” read a sign they hung from the tent.
Sohn bought coffee and donuts for everyone in line Friday morning.
One customer in Friday’s line, Nick, got a Hot Doug’s tattoo on his arm four years ago, earning him free hot dogs as long as Hot Dougs’ was open. Now that it’s closing for good, he said he has no regrest.
“I got free food for Doug’s life,” he said. “I’ve had it for four years, and gone easily over 150 times.”
Another restaurant reportedly will be replacing Hot Doug’s. Sohn told the Chicago Tribune the owners of Fatso’s Last Stand and The Lock Down will take over the storefront after he leaves the building at the end of the month. Fatso’s is another popular hot dog stand in Chicago, while The Lockdown is best known for its burgers.