After tasting Chicago style hot dogs at more than 40 local establishments, Doug Sohn knew exactly what to o„ffer when he opened Hot Doug’s, known for some of the most innovative options ever to grace a hot dog stand menu.

After graduating from culinary school, Doug Sohn was working as a cookbook editor and trying to figure out his next step. He and several coworkers, spurred on by a bad hot dog eating experience, set out to try as many di‡fferent hot dog establishments as possible to discern who did the best dog.

After noticing himself so often saying, “I like what this place does, I think this could work but needs to be tweaked,” Sohn decided to open his own Chicago style hot dog stand. Sohn opened Hot Doug’s at a location in the Roscoe Village neighborhood of Chicago, and business quickly took o‡ff.

A fire and a new location

The original Hot Doug’s location in Roscoe Village su‡ffered a fire by way of a freak accident in the building. For a long time, Doug was not sure he would reopen.

“Food is so subjective that any taste you like will work on a hot dog. It really is the quintessential American food for customization.”

“At first, it was like ‘Oh great, we’re done, let’s go do something else’,” Sohn jokes. “But then I received so many phone calls and emails, it was really humbling and eye opening to see how much people appreciated our restaurant.”

He reopened the now-classic Encased Meats Emporium in Avondale, and was once again hard at work selling his wares. These range in diversity from a Chicago style hot dog to a smoked crayfish sausage and pork sausage with shrimp remoulade and caraway havarti cheese.

Sohn has been lauded by numerous publications and television shows for helping to bring a‡ ordable gourmet fast food to the people of Chicago. He strives to keep flocks of the faithful as well as new customers interested, and continues to explore his culinary range. “At the end of the day, to me it has always been all about being sure to deliver the best Chicago style hot dog.”

Toppings?

Yes, please! Sohn believes that, “Food is so subjective that any taste you like will work on a hot dog. It really is the quintessential American food for customization.”