From Too Many Chefs -

June 20, 2005
Hard Habit to Break - Broken!

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)

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at June 20, 2005 10:16 AM | TrackBack

May I put a sausage where the hot dog is supposed to go? It isn't that I don't like hot dogs, because I really do. But sausage lures me in and I cannot break its grasp. It leaps in to my pots of beans, soups (even vegetarian ones), buns and then sometimes directly on to my fork !!! Sausage is inescapable, it knows where you live.


Posted by Dr. Biggles on June 20, 2005 at 3:49 PM

Dr. B, when you're in Chicago you should most definitely check out Hot Doug's Sausage Superstore and Encased Meats Emporium where they celebrate encased meat in all its incarnations.

It's a little out of the way at California and Roscoe, but probably worth the trip.

Posted by barrett on June 20, 2005 at 4:08 PM

I'm afraid I'm sick. I like everything but the kitchen sink and including ketchup on my hotdog....

Posted by Meg in Paris on June 21, 2005 at 11:54 AM

Oh Meg, I'm so sorry to hear that. You've clearly been away from the motherland (Chicago) too long.

Posted by barrett on June 21, 2005 at 12:21 PM

No, it's not a new trend. I remember when I was growing up hearing the old mustard-on-dogs, ketchup-on-burgers argument but I always liked both on both. Just an undiscriminating devourer of grilled meats at the end of the day...!

Posted by Meg in Paris on June 21, 2005 at 4:24 PM