No, the sky isn’t falling, but a Tuesday morning report puts the future of The Wiener’s Circle in doubt. The 36-year-old Lincoln Park hot dog stand is famous for spirited late-night banter between customers and staff. There are plans to sell the property where the 700-square-foot stand stands on the 2600 block of North Clark Street. The landlord wants to bundle the hot dog stand with a neighboring apartment building — which houses Snow Dragon Shavery — and that could make the combined 12,942-square-foot property attractive for a developer with a larger project in mind.
A for sale listing like this — a real estate property that includes an existing restaurant — isn’t unusual. Often the restaurant continues unaffected, even if the property it sits on changes hands.
The Wiener’s Circle’s future depends on whether a new property owner chooses to demolish the stand and the neighboring building or just sit back and let the chocolate shakes keep flowing. However, as Crain’s reported, Wiener’s Circle’s owners are interested in buying the property themselves and leaving the Chicago food landmark intact. That’s a group headed by Ari Levy of Levy Family Partners. They’re the ones who are opening Aloha Poke Co. locations around the country.
The Wiener’s Circle just opened a location inside a new minor league baseball stadium in Rosemont and there was a Las Vegas location that closed. Lately, the hot dog stand has lent its humor to the restaurant’s marquee with a mix of messages bashing President Trump. During baseball season, the marquee celebrates the Cubs as Wrigley Field is less than two miles north. For the past few Halloweens and April Fools Days, this location has donned costumes. It transformed to McDowell’s, the McDonald’s parody from Eddie Murphy’s 1988 film Coming to America. In April 2017, the restaurant joked that it had been annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The move was another shot at Trump.
And finally, we are proud to announce our newest expansion pic.twitter.com/qAvqqM7ks1— The Wiener's Circle (@TheWienerCircle) March 31, 2017
A broker speaking to Crain’s said that they want to maximize the property’s value. There’s a small parking lot that leads into an alley behind the hot dog stand and there are picnic tables in front. The broker argued that the restaurant isn’t the best use of the property. The stand is on a month-to-month lease.
The hot dog stand routinely draws crowds after midnight as dizzied patrons leave Lakeview and Lincoln Park bars. Beyond the histrionics, the fresh-cut fries and char dogs are among the city’s best. It’s a Chicago institution, and if the city’s residents were angry about a razed McDonald’s or a Taco Bell, they just might lose their minds if a wrecking ball threatens Wiener’s Circle. In fact, it looks like the Taco Bell in Wrigleyville just found a new tenant, a climbing gym, according to Curbed Chicago.