Another Season Ends and Plan for the future.

Wow, I can’t believe another season of Mack Dawg’s Chicago Style Hot Dogs is coming to a close. I also cannot believe it’s been a year since we shared anything on this blog.

We spent most of the year selling Chicago Style Hot Dogs from the southeast corner of the Chatham, IL square. It was a great summer but we’ve seen how much more exposure we get in our season ending location in front of the old Chatham firehouse, across the street from the Post Office.

We’ve seen a small uptick in traffics during September and October that we can honestly say we will be back to the general area along Walnut next season.

Now, the plan for next year is to eventually have Mack Dawg’s Chicago Style Hot Dogs open for lunch and dinner. We may open the season with dinner service only if we can open as early as March 2019!

Rest assured, by June 2019, we will be open for lunch and dinner in Chatham, IL. We will also debut two new menu items and a new look to the cart in 2019. Stay tuned!

We will share cart modifications on the blog over the winter as well as continue to promote our Facebook page @Mackdawgs

Chicago Style Hot Dogs

T-shirt front

Don’t forget you can purchase eGift Cards to use at Mack Dawg’s and we are also selling t-shirts with a share of the proceeds to benefit charity. Head on over to our shop now page and see what we have to offer.

Chicago Style Hot Dogs

T-shirt back

As always, we want to say thank you to all who have supported us this summer in any way. We know you share our posts, but lunch from us, and have come to our events and spread the word to family and friends. For that, we THANK YOU!

Mack Dawg’s Chicago Style Hot Dogs looks forward to next season as we continue to bring you delicious Chicago Style Hot Dogs, Polish Sausage, and Italian beef sandwiches. Oh, and our two new menu items for 2019.

Tales from the Dog Side

We made it through week one at Mack Dawg's. It's been an interesting week to say the least.

Tuesday morning came around after very little sleep and many, many thoughts of the future.

We had decided to put a hitch on the Impala to get us around town slinging delicious hot dogs.

The girls decided they wanted to help out and that's where things began to get interesting. I had to drive the girls out to the sight and go back home to load the car since a tiny Impala won't hold them and all the gear.

It took some maneuvering to fit everything into the car but I got it all in and set out to set up to serve Chicago Style Hot Dogs to the fine folks of Chatham, IL.

We've never experienced a grand opening of our own before. We were able to advertise some and build a small following before launch. Obviously, we were hopeful it wouldn't be a complete bust.

Alas, our first customer pulled up shortly after 11:30 am and we were officially in business.


Photo courtesy of Barbara Ruckman Soppe

The forecast had called for rain most of the day and we did muddle through two small showers and pulled off our first day, an eight hour day to boot.

The day gave us much hope and a few insights.
In fact, we did two late days and two lunches. The week went better each day we set up.

We were able to streamline our set up and break down process and work our stove and inventory a little better.

I had tremendous help from two of my girls and we decided to let them come out a little later in the day on day three. It was time to let dad do it all on his own. Heck, school will be starting soon and I'll be all by myself then so it was good practice.

Wouldn't you know it, we had our busiest hour of the week during the hour I was alone. It was quite comical.

Sometimes, I get so excited chatting with customers that I make their hot dog the wrong way and have to start over. Every time I did this the customer was quick to say don't worry about it and they said they'd take it the way I made it, but I couldn't have that. It's awesome for them to be forgiving, but we have to get YOUR order right.

We have decided to use poppy seed buns for all our hot dogs. If you want a plain bun, just ask. We will have some on hand every day.

More folks tried the Chicago Style Hot Dog and we thinks the tide may be turning. LOL

A big thank you to all who joined us this week. We will be back on Monday morning ready to serve the hungry people of Chatham.

Don't forget to tell your friends and don't be afraid to share our stuff on Facebook

The Journey is almost complete (not really, it’s just beginning)!

Wow, we can’t really believe that we are three days away from our grand opening.

There have been a few setbacks along the way, and for a brief minute I almost doubted an August 1 grand opening.

Once the cart malfunctions were addressed and we got the thumbs up from the health department, we set out to look for a location.

Our first choice was the parking lot of a local gas station. We had seen other’s selling their goods in that spot; we felt confident we could get it if the town didn’t let us operate on the square.

We soon learned why people set up to sell, but don’t often stay long term. We felt the rent the owners wanted was a tad steep for a mobile cart operation. Hey, if I wanted a big rent, I would have just rented a spot.

We had kind of been put in hold by the town. They really weren’t sure what the legalities were since no one had ever requested to open a mobile food cart long term in town.

But alas, the actual brain trust (my wife and business partner) knows things and she definitely knows people.

She knew of a prime location to begin operations, she spoke to the people in charge of said location, and they quickly agreed to let us set up. For that, we are extremely blessed, humbled, and thankful.

So, it appears as if it’s time for us to let you know where we are going to be and when.

We started this business with the sole idea of providing good quality food extremely fast and totally affordable. We guarantee we will feed a family of four for under $20.00.

However, many expressed an interest in having something this awesome available during the lunch hours.

So, we got to thinking and it didn’t take long for us to amend our plans.

We will officially be open for lunch at 11:30 am at 211 N. State street in Chatham, IL.

If you’re not sure of the address, just go to our locations and hours page or look for the yellow and red umbrellas.

Or look for this sign.

I remember when I got the hot dog itch!

I was a young newly wed living at my then mother-in-law's house.

My first experience in a hot dog stand as a worker came in the early morning hours after drinking and watching the Holyfield vs. Foreman fight.

My one and only task for that day was to prepare the potatoes and make the fresh cut fries for the day.

The kitchen gods make this large ass machine that peels potatoes and in all its karma glory it was loud.

Once those giant potatoes came out the bottom missing a good portion of its winter wear, they had to be washed, stabbed with a big fork and stuck upright in a hand operated French fry slicer.

I think I had to peel and slice one hundred pounds of potatoes for the day. I was miserable and couldn't wait to get back in bed and sleep off that nasty hangover.

That was my first small foray into the hot dog business. I was also once tasked with helping out at the hot dog stand during one particular lunch rush.

Photo from Hot Dog Profits

My former mother-in-law didn't like they way I wrapped the hot dogs for to go orders. I apparently didn't do it exactly the was she did. I know this because every time she saw me wrapping the hot dogs my way, she had to stop me and show me how to do it again, her way.

I'm pretty sure I could have easily done it her way, but it was so much more fun doing it my way and antagonizing her in the process.

While I was often upset in those days watching my former wife slave away at her mother's hot dog stand, I did see the potential in owning a successful stand.

There have always been two places I frequented in my youth that led to this fairy tale that involved me in the restaurant business. My former mother-in-law's hot dog stand and a tiny diner located across the street from my childhood home known as Christ's grill ( pronounced like Chris not like Christ).

We are now getting closer to fulfilling one of those fairy tales.

Soon we will be bringing Chicago Style Hot Dogs to Chatham, Illinois.

From coast to coast, a Chicago Style Hot Dog has to be made with Vienna Beef.

You read that correctly. From coast to coast, a Chicago Style Dog must be made with Vienna Beef. 

So far, I’ve asked three friends to name a place in their area that uses Vienna Beef to make Chicago Style Hot Dogs. 

A friend in Orlando, Florida told us about a place called Hot Dog Heaven, and from the results of a simple google search we found locations in Amherst, Ohio and Buffalo, Ney York. It’s looking more like a good Vienna all-beef hot dog is the best way to go. 

Our friends on the West Coast, San Diego to be exact, let us know about a place called Lefty’s Chicago Pizzeria who also serves a Chicago Style Hot Dog on their menu

Before you even get into California, depending the route you take, you can even get Chicago Style Hot Dogs at a place called a Taste of Chicago Restaurant and Tavern in Reno, Nevada. 

There’s a unique taste about a hot dog made in the style of Chicago. It’s a taste transplants crave, a taste tourists from Chicago find comforting, and it’s a taste you locals will come to enjoy. 

Hot dogs have been known to bring people together, after all, they’re as America as apple pie and baseball. And Vienna Beef has been proven to be the best there is when making a yummy Chicago Style Hot Dog. 

If you have a favorite place and want to share with us, just drop us a comment and send a few pictures. 

Finally, a decently located local distributor.

From the minute we decided to take this journey we’ve been on a hunt. 

A hunt across many websites and google searches looking for a place to get the best possible products for Mack Dawg’s Chicago Style Hot Dogs. 

Now, as you’ve probably read, I grew up in the Chicagoland area and the absolute best is a Vienna Beef hot dog. 

Chicago Style Hot Dog

Look, there are hot dog stands spread throughout the city of Chicago and, sadly, not all of them use the best dog. 

One of my favorite joints was just down the street. It was a place opened by a Greek man in an old stand alone Tastee Freeze. He offered a 3 dog and fries special. He gave a lunch sack full of fries and used generic dogs probably loaded with fillers. But, the price was right. 

We began looking online for Vienna beef and could find them in Amazon, but the price with added shipping wouldn’t make their use feasible. 

Had we lived in a suburb just outside of Chicago, we could have obtained them in bulk for a decent price at Sam’s Club, but alas, we’re bringing Chicago Style Hot Dogs to Chatham, IL, a quaint suburb of Springfield in Central Illinois. 

We then went to the nearest wholesale food distributor and inquired about the brand of all-beef hot dog they carry, and soon learned it wasn’t Vienna beef. 

While driving in town one day, I noticed a place known as Country Market and found they sell eight packs of the beloved frank made in Chicago, but, again, the price was not feasible. 

Thankfully, I decided to ask the woman working the register if they order the dogs from the Vienna Beef website. 

“No,” she said, “we get them from a place in Decatur, Illinois.” 

At last, we may have found a decently located local distributor. A short fifty minute drive later and we soon learned we can get every item we need from food stuffs to paper stuffs, and crap to clean any messes we make. 

And with a minimum $200.00 order, they’ll deliver.