It looks like March will mark the Chicago arrival of Dog Haus, the LA-based chain of gourmet hot dog shops. Crews are finishing off the build-out at 2464-66 N. Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park. Expect a bar with 24 to 30 local beers on tap and cocktails, plus a menu of speciality sausages, burgers, and a fried chicken sandwich.
Chicago is hallowed ground for hot dogs, and ownership is aware. They’ll have many of the ingredients for a proper Chicago-style dog, but it will be a secret off-menu item, said co-founder André Vener. It won’t be quite authentic as they won’t have poppy-seed buns; Dog Haus strictly uses King’s Hawaiian rolls. The chain also grills its sausage rather than steaming or deep frying. The project was first announced in 2016.
Dog Haus has been quick to adapt the “craft casual” tag, trying to differentiate itself from the Chiptoles of the world the defined fast casual. Runners will drop orders off at customers’ tables following ordering at the counter. The chain made its Midwest debut last year in Rockford. They’re set to open in Decatur over the weekend. Overall, Vener said the company hopes to open 40 shops in Illinois over the next six years. They’re searching for a Downtown location and it typically takes nine months to open a Dog Haus after a lease is finalized, Vener said.
“Hopefully people will fall in love with our culture,” Vener said.
The 100 percent-beef sausages (no hormones or antibiotics, said Vener) are made on the West Coast under the supervision of celebrity chef Adam Gertler. Gertler frequently appears on Food Network and creates encased meats like the Downtown Dog (bacon-wrapped, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, mayo/mustard/ketchup). Vener is proud of their signature items. For the Chicago audience they’ll add a sausage named after Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. They’re still tweaking the recipe, so Vener wouldn’t reveal the toppings. Dog Haus just wants to complement the existing sausage scene in Chicago.
“We are sticking with who we are,” Vener said.
Check out the breakdown of the menu. They’ll also corn dog any of their sausages and also offer vegan options. The burger patties aren’t thin and griddled or super thick. They account for about 30 percent of sales, Vener said.
The chain still wants to build cred in Chicago. It periodically offers special sausages from celebrity chefs. From March through April, chain-wide, they’ll offer a selection from Chicago-based Iron Chef Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat, Little Goat, Duck Duck Goat). It’s called “Everybody Lap Cheong Tonight” — a reference to the 1986 Wang Chung song, Everybody Have Fun Tonight. Izard once again draws inspiration from Asia with a Chinese sausage with sweet and spicy peppers, relish, and scallions. Proceeds will benefit No Kid Hungry.