You don't need an online review or a magazine cover story to measure Hot Doug's popularity—you need only to look at the long lines billowing out of the restaurant's entrance every day. Some customers wake up early on Saturday to avoid the long waits, while others stay away from Doug's on weekends. But inevitably, everyone queues up along the sidewalk on Roscoe Street hoping that rain or snow isn't in the forecast.
If you plan on going before the Oct. 4 closing, prepare to wait up to nine hours. But at least you'll meet people like this in line:
1.) The Traveling Foodie: Perhaps they've heard about Doug's on a Food Network segment or read an article about this unique sausage superstore. These customers are eager to cross Doug's off their bucket list.
How they're spotted: They repeatedly tell you how great the Chicago episode of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" was and how that piqued their interest in Hot Doug's. They've also already checked the menu online and know what they want to order.
2.) The Skeptic: These are the folks who doubt the gourmet value in waiting in line for a mere sausage. Their hot dog memories stem from a childhood eating cut up Oscar Mayer in their mac and cheese.
How they're spotted: They're threatening friends with sour looks and saying things like, "this better be worth the wait" or "why didn't we just go to the Wiener's Circle?" They also take their time while ordering, despite seemingly having an eternity to make up their minds while waiting in line.
3.) The Hipster Loyalist: Despite their anti-establishment vibe, they love Hot Doug's so much that they tolerate the infants in strollers and folks in town for the Dave Matthews show.
How they're spotted: They're complaining about the other people in line and perhaps wearing a Hot Doug's T-shirt with the old Roscoe Village address.
4.) The Tourist: They're visiting Chicago for a work conference, sporting event or concert and have strayed from downtown all the way northwest to Doug's Avondale location.
How they're spotted: They're wearing a sports jersey or a lanyard around their neck.
5.) The Family: The parents have decided that Hot Doug's would be the ideal family bonding excursion. The children will have to wait in line and learn to be patient. The parents get to talk with the kids and have a great meal.
How they're spotted: You see cranky kids playing with their smartphones and delivering monosyllabic answers to their parents.
6.) The Working Stiff: They took an extra-long lunch "hour" at work on a weekday to make their pilgrimage.
How they're spotted: They're constantly checking the time to see if they'll be late coming back to work.
7.) The Naive Youngster: They don't know what Hot Doug's is, but they've heard enough about it that they want to try it so they can Instagram their friends. Paying $10 for a meal represents a "fancy meal" for this set.
How they're spotted: They're intimidated by the unique menu specials (like rattlesnake and gator). Instead, they just order a hot dog with ketchup, and then they send five Instagrams bragging about it.
8.) The Expatriate: These former Chicagoans are only in town for a brief time. But they made sure they're in Chicago during only a non-holiday, thus ensuring Hot Doug's (which is closed for most holiday weekends) is open.
How to spot them: They constantly lament leaving Chicago and how difficult it is to find a good hot dog away from home.
9.) Area Man or Woman: Hot Doug's isn't a gourmet journey for these folks; they either work or live nearby and just like a good meal.
How to spot them: They offer advice to newbies waiting in line and don't complain too much, except when a newbie tries to grab a seat in the dining area before they order.
10.) The Suburbanite: A trip to Hot Doug's for this set is the city folks equivalent to a concert at Ravinia up north in Highland Park. They've heard the hype, and want to earn some cred among their neighbors in their subdivision.
How to spot them: They brought patio chairs so they can sit in line or they're bragging about how they're surprised it was so easy to find parking near the restaurant.
[Edit: This story has been edited to fix a location mistake.]