Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Call of the Doug

I don't know what made me crave , Chicago's premier hot dog stop. But I did, and given that it is Chicago's premier (if a tad unorthodox) hot dog stop, I couldn't resist. The challenge was getting to the place early enough to make it worth the trip, as Hot Doug's is so popular lines have been known to stretch around the block, with waits of up to 2 hours. Seeing as Hot Doug's is Chicago's premier hot dog stop, I couldn't justify that wait. (How anyone can is beyond me - there are lots of good dogs in this town.)

So knowing that the place is busy even in the off hours, and that news that Hot Doug's had just made some national magazine's top 10 dog list was likely to make things worse, I hustled to make it there around 11am this morning. The wait was a reasonable enough 20 minutes, though by the time I left with my Chicago char dog, Jamaican jerk pork sausage (with passion fruit-mango mayonnaise and roasted plantains) and fresh cut fries, the line was twice as long! Jeepers. No doubt people were tipped off by the Wait Watcher twitter feed and took advantage of the brief lull.

The wait times must work to Doug's advantage, though. Just about everyone orders twice as much as they need to make the most of the effort. Even then, Doug himself, manning the counter, knows how to make the smooth upsale. "Would you like a small soda?" he'd ask, with a shrug. "Free refills today. Might as well, right?" And person after person eating in took him up on the offer.


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