CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago's hippest hot dog stand helped elevate the lowly sausage into a culinary superstar by stuffing it with exotic ingredients including escargot, foie gras and rattlesnake. When the owner announced the gourmet shop was closing, everyone expected encased-meat aficionados to line up for one last taste.
Lines forming deep in the night. Lawn chairs, card tables, poker chips, sleeping bags and booze to help pass the wait of up to eight hours. A spot in line popping up on Craigslist for $300. Apologetic announcements telling patrons they won't reach the front of the line and secure their coveted dog before closing time.
As Hot Doug's prepares to close Friday, in a city that takes its hot dogs seriously, the line outside Doug Sohn's "sausage superstore" has become as big a sensation as the stand itself. And nobody entertains the idea for even a second that this is the least bit crazy.
So, who are these people? Well, just go down the line:
Christopher Sanders and his buddy David Kudla became Wednesday's first customers at 12:45 a.m., unfolding lawn chairs to wait for the doors to open at 10:30 a.m.
Sanders, 29, had never been to Doug's before — put off, by all things, by the sight of constant but shorter lines.
"I've driven past it, seen the lines and said, 'I'm not waiting that long, it's crazy,'" he said. "I will never get a chance to do it ever again."
MAKING THE GRADE
Sergio Deleon, who arrived at 3 a.m., knows that if he's not in his college classroom by 11 it will cost him a full grade in class.
"Gonna be worth it," said the 24-year-old Deleon, though he had a plan for salvaging an A — buy a dog for the professor too.
"See if it works," he said.
Bartender Dani Ploszaj thought it nice to learn the names of the other people in line — all of them.
"I was like, 'Hey, what's your name, what's your name?'" she said, pointing to the 48th, 49th and 50th people in line — Michelle, Annie and Patrick. "Now they're all my friends."
TO YOUR HEALTH
From his lawn chair about 70 people down, retired physician Jack Laude can tell you all the reasons why hot dogs aren't healthy.
Not that the 62-year-old Laude would be deterred from the boar and bacon cheese dog he's intent on ordering.
"You want to know the secret of longevity?" he asks. "Pick your parents well."