By Eric Lutz
In summers throughout high school and college, my friends and I worked at a hotdog stand called Voo’s—a mobile cart at an upscale outdoor shopping mall in the suburb where I grew up. From 8:30am to 5:30pm every day, we’d hang out, eat sport peppers and listen to ball games. Then, our boss—the eponymous Voo—would pay us eighty dollars cash from the register, plus whatever tips we earned which, on a good day, amounted to about twenty bucks a piece. It was—and remains—the best job I have ever had.
Amid the pretensions of the uppercrust mall, we were a kind of populist oasis where the low-wage mall employees and the bored shoppers could find reprieve from the carefully manicured shrubbery and high-end shops.
Most of these people were cool. There was the goateed Apple Store guy who ate probably six hotdogs per week. The fun couple that operated the roasted nut stand nearby. Even the Polish security guard who hurled insults at us as he sped by on his Segway found his way into our hearts. Read the rest of this entry »
By Christine Badger
Back in the nineties, Doug Sohn and three of his friends went seeking the truth. A truth that many of us have pondered—what makes a good hot dog? Over the span of two years, Doug and his cohorts ventured to a little over forty hot dog places. “It became very self-involved,” Sohn says. “You know, we’d grade it and write a little review and it was funny to us, referencing other places, referencing what happened at lunch and so forth.” Out of this wiener madness, a light bulb went off in Doug’s head. He knew what worked. He knew what didn’t. Bing! Why not open his own place? Thus begot Hot Doug’s, his two-year-old gourmet hot dog stand.
Nestled in the Roscoe Village neighborhood, Sohn’s shop appears small and unassuming. But when you enter his world. the yellow-, red- and blue-painted walls strike you. The pictures of Elvis—young Elvis mainly, Britney Spears, Madonna, Cubs memorabilia, and the Morrocan tiled tabletops reel you in. There’s a fun, almost carnival feel to the place, like you’ve just entered summer. Toss the ball and you win a prize. Read the rest of this entry »