Another old-school Chicago hot dog stand is closing, as ownership of Johnny O’s in Bridgeport announced it will serve its last sausage on Saturday. The stand’s history dates back to 1959 at a previous location, but the present location, 3465 S. Morgan Street, opened in 1970. The business has struggled in recent years and earlier this month owners launched an online fund-raising campaign to help pay off debts. The GoFundMe has a $100,000 goal and so far they’ve raised about $600.
Last year, the owners teased they wanted to open an arcade bar next to the stand, a stark change in philosophy from the low-key hot dog stand that’s stood for nearly five decades. The Veliotis family suffered a pair of losses in 2017. John Veliotis Jr. died, and his father, John Veliotis — “Johnny O” — died later the same year.
The fundraiser’s $100,000 goal would pay back the small business loan John Veliotis took out shortly before his death, for renovations to the space, and license renewals, according to the GoFundMe page. Block Club Chicago first reported the story and spoke with local business owners about the impact of the impending closure.
The stand serves Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef, and the “Mother-in-Law” (tamale cradled in a hot dog bun and covered with chili). It was a late-night spot and also sold packaged goods. The location is just west of the home of the Chicago White Sox, Guaranteed Rate Field.
Many tenured hot dog stands have closed across the city. Last year, Murphy’s Red Hots closed in Lakeview near Wrigley Field to make room for new construction. Dave’s Red Hots, 3422 W. Roosevelt Road in Homan Square, is believed to be the city’s oldest remaining stand. The 81-year-old stand opened in 1938.