It won’t happen for a few months, but the original location of Redhot Ranch is packing up and moving. RHR — home of crispy french-fried shrimp and a delicious natural-encased Chicago-style Depression Dog — isn’t going too far. It’s moving around the corner from Western Avenue to a renovated space at 2449 W. Armitage Avenue. Owner Jeff Greenfield said he hopes to open the new location in July, just west of iconic ice cream parlor Margie’s Candies at Milwaukee, Armitage, and Western avenues.
Redhot Ranch has been hailed as an oasis for affordable late-night meals. The food goes beyond typical fast food thanks to high-quality ingredients and attention to detail. The stand’s been at 2072 N. Western Avenue for a decade. Coincidentally, when it initially arrived, Redhot Ranch replaced Las Asadas, a Mexican restaurant that has since moved into a new space across the street. Greenfield said they’re gutting the Armitage space. He believed it was being used by 90 Miles Cuban Cafe (located west of the lot at 2540 W. Armitage) for offsite parking.
The Western space lacks interior seating, though there are a few picnic tables outside. The Armitage space will have at least eight seats at the counter. And just like Western Avenue, there’s a parking lot: “We couldn’t do it without parking,” Greenfield said.
The Armitage Avenue location is about 675 square feet compared to the 500 square feet on Western: “An extra 150 square feet doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re been working and doing a business out of a little box, that extra 150 feet is beautiful,” Greenfield added.
The reason behind the move? The stand’s lease was about to expire, Greenfield said, and it was time to find a new home. Their Western Avenue landlord is allowing Redhot Ranch to remain until the Armitage Avenue is ready. Greenfield said he didn’t know what is planned for the Western Avenue parcel.
The food will remain the same. The Depression Dog is a Chicago-style hot dog variant that isn’t dragged through the garden with all the various toppings like a traditional Chicago dog. Instead, a Depression dog is given smears of pickled green relish and mustard, then topped with onions and sports peppers. The dog is finally wrapped with fries.
The extra room will allow ownership to install a self-serve soda machine that will free up staff who will no longer have to be tasked with filling cups. Greenfield said they won't opt for Coca-Cola’s fancy Freestyle Machine with touchscreens. Redhot Ranch is a no-frills space, after all. Greenfield also pointed out that the digital machine only allows for one customer to get their drink at a time. Technology isn’t perfect.
There’s also a Redhot Ranch in Lakeview which opened in 2014 at 3055 N. Ashland Avenue. It was there Greenfield and business partner Barry Nemerow would unleash the Redhot Ranch burger, which now has a cultish following. Based on West Coast chain In-N-Out Burger, the griddled cheeseburger comes with a terrific sear and fresh-cut fries for a little more than $5. At first the burger was served exclusively at the Lakeview location. They didn't have the proper ventilation to cook the burgers along Western Avenue. But the burger’s popularity continued to soar so they made a few renovations in Bucktown and brought the burger there. The burger’s now served at 35th Street Red Hots, Greenfield’s South Side hot dog stand. Greenfield said they quietly began serving it three months ago.
Greenfield credited his new landlords at Strauss Realty with finding them a space so they could stay in the neighborhood. Redhot Ranch follows another top Chicago hot dog stop, Fatso’s Last Stand, in opening new spaces in recent months. Fatso’s opened a second location in December near the proposed site for the Lincoln Yards mega-development.
Stay tuned for news on an opening date for Redhot Ranch, but — as Greenfield pointed out — don’t be bashful about visiting the Western Avenue location. They’re still open for business in the interim.
Redhot Ranch, 2449 N. Armitage Avenue, scheduled to move in July from 2072 N. Western Avenue.