While the dust settles following the closing of Chicago's beloved sausage superstore, a new restaurant group is finalizing plans to move into the iconic corner space on California and Roscoe.
Per his lease terms, Doug Sohn and team need to pack up his signature decorations (which he'll auction off for charity) and vacate the Hot Doug's space before November 1. Then the group behind Fatso's Last Stand and Lockdown Bar & Grill will move in, and hope to open Frank Meats Patty there on December 1.
The boisterous Bob Corbett, general manager of the Lockdown group, brims with excitement for the new project but tempers that with respect for Sohn. "I can't do what (Doug) does," he says. "We're not trying to be Hot Doug's. I stood in line there for years like everyone else."
Corbett says he heard the news about Hot Doug's impending closing the same way as everyone else—from the news. One of Corbett's partners knows the landlord and they began negotiating the lease.
What they'll open is a fast-casual, affordable, gourmet burger and hot dog place with a similar menu to Fatso's but with some new items. In addition to their thin, griddled burgers and char dogs, Fatso's secret menu items, such as their shrimp po'boy that Adam Richman featured on the Travel Channel, will be on the regular menu. He is also considering offering different types of game burgers, such as bison, in the same fast-casual style.
The group will replace Sohn's array of memorabilia with decorations celebrating classic Chicago, such as architecture, sports and politics.They're also purchasing Sohn's kitchen equipment—meaning the burgers and dogs you eat there will come from the same grills that once cooked the famous foie gras dogs and other Hot Doug's specialties.
Don't expect alcohol at Frank Meats Patty—at least not in the beginning—but do expect it to be open later than Hot Doug's notoriously early closing times. Eat-in, carry-out and delivery service will run from lunch through at least 10 p.m. daily.
One of the things Corbett is most looking forward to is serving the locals and other people that couldn't eat at Hot Doug's because they didn't have time to wait in the epic lines or get there during the odd hours. That, combined with Fatso's and Lockdown's high reputations, makes him believe that Frank Meats Patty will be a successful neighborhood place.
"If you serve good food and keep the prices fair, people will come in," Corbett says. "As long as the customers know I'm not trying to be Doug."