What sad times are these when DePaul students can no longer grab a hot dog and fries while listening to light pop tunes from a has-been band?
This weekend time ran out out for Peter Shivarelli's Demon Dogs under Chicago's Fullerton Red/Brown Line el stop. After much back and forth with the CTA, which leased the space to Shivarelli, the hot dog stand has been booted.
For over two decades, the thick scent of hot dogs and french fries greeted Fullerton El train riders from directly below the El platform. For $1.88, patrons of the stand could enjoy a hot dog and fries with a subset of the classic Chicago hot dog toppings (peppers, onion, mustard, relish), but the low price of the food came with a horrible psychic price.
Shivarelli, who owned the stand, also managed the band Chicago. The walls were covered with gold records from the brass-heavy pop band that devolved from credible songs like "Saturday in the Park" and "25 or 6 to 4" to insipid ballads like "If You Leave Me Now" and "Hard to Say I'm Sorry", and patrons were forced to listen to a never-ending soundtrack of Chicago's biggest hits. Is a cheap hot dog worth that kind of pain? Well, they were pretty darn good hot dogs.
No word yet on whether this successful combination of bad pop and encased meats will reopen anywhere else. It's doubtful the CTA, which took the property back for the upcoming Brown Line reconstruction project, will lease space in the new station to Shivarelli. He and the CTA were in frequent conflict, most recently and notably about who was responsible for tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid utility bills.
Hot dog lovers in Chicago still have plenty of good joints to pick from, from Fluky's to Gold Coast Dogs to The Weiner's Circle (as seen on Dave Attel's Insomniac) to SuperDawg, to the famous Hot Doug's - Chicago's self-proclaimed Sausage Superstore and Encased Meats Emporium.
For those of you unfortunate enough not to not have access to this string of dog shacks, Vienna Beef (which IS the Chicago hot dog) has a guide to making a Chicago dog at home. When I ate hot dogs, I preferred many more hot peppers and couldn't stand relish but the rest of the instructions seem right to me.
Oh, and if you put ketchup on a hot dog, you're sick. Very, very, very sick.
Dog costume available at Tails By the Lake (note the URL says tailsbythebay)