Happy Birthday, Harry!

Familiar hot dog shopkeeper turns 100

Mayor Daley took time out of his busy schedule Friday to have lunch with Harry Heftman.

Heftman is Chicago's iconic hot dog restauranteur who's been serving breakfast and lunch from his downtown shop for 55 years. On Friday, he celebrated his birthday there, as he has since he opened the doors in 1954.

But this birthday was special, not just because the mayor was there, but because Heftman turned 100.  Also joining the celebration were his family, customers, landlord and long-time suppliers.

His is the classic American immigrant success story, according to a news release from his son, Charles Heftman.

Harry came to the United States via Ellis Island in 1921 at age 12 with his family from Sojmy, a small village in Hungary, now southwestern Ukraine. The family settled in Chicago and the future entrepreneur grew up on the West Side near Division Street and Western Avenue.

Heftman opened a fruit store on Lawrence Avenue in the late 1930's, then a succession of restaurants in the '40s and '50s.

Harry's Hot Dogs, at the northwest corner of Randolph and Franklin streets, opened as The Little Snack Shop, a diner featuring lunch specials and hot dogs. 

In 1982, Heftman remodeled the joint and changed the name. He's been serving up his popular Chicago delicacy ever since.

Happy Birthday, Harry.  You're the top dog.

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