Hot Dog Delivery Doomed?

Delivery guys didn’t ask the ‘Big Dog’ for permission first

Hot Doug's (3324 N California Ave) is arguably the best hot dog place in the city.

Every day, a long line of hungry patrons spills out the door and crawls around the building. Locals have been known to wait an hour or more just to get a taste of encased-meat goodness. But with a wait like that, it's not likely you will get to enjoy lunch there on a weekday unless you live or work in the area.

Two bike messengers, Nico Westlund and Gary Michael, were hoping to change that. They started the Hot Doug Drop, a Web site inviting orders via e-mail or fax from hungry downtowners. The desired dogs would then be delivered to either the Mercantile Exchange or the Chicago Board of Trade for pick-up.

The delivery guys charge $1 per dog, but they aren't officially sanctioned by Hot Doug's owner Doug Sohn.

"The problem is, he's charging a fee," Sohn told Gapers Block Drive-Thru. He's bothered by the fact that someone has set up a for-profit service based on his business without his consent.

Not to mention, standing in line at Hot Doug's is almost a Chicagoan rite of passage. Having them delivered is cheapening the experience, Sohn argues.

Westlund and Michael originally provided the service to just friends of theirs, but business has grown in just a few short weeks. The orders are getting bigger and more complicated, and they could slow things down for those customers who showed up in person and waited patiently in line.

"I know the guy who started it, and I'm going to talk to him about shutting it down the next time I see him," Sohn said.

Andrew Huff spoke to Westlund, who wasn't surprised to hear Sohn's reaction: "It went from us having 30 dogs to it ramping up to where we might be too much of a burden on Doug."

The service has temporarily(?) closed according to the website: "We're taking time off for Passover and working out some kinks with the Sultan of Sausage."

Matt Bartosik, editor of Off the Rocks' next issue and "between blogs" blogger, suddenly has a craving for a Chicago-style dog.

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