The Wieners Circle, the Lincoln Park hot dog stand known for its rude late-night service and its proudly partisan marquee, reopened over Halloween weekend, and although it’s added a bar and undergone renovations, its spirit remains unchanged — as evidenced by a new marquee message ripping a certain unvaccinated Green Bay Packers quarterback. The sign reads, “‘I own you, Aaron Rodgers’ — Science.”
This is a reference to the former NFL MVP who had to sit out Sunday’s game against Kansas City because of a positive COVID-19 test. As a supporter of Chicago sports teams, Wieners Circle management relished the opportunity to hit back on Rodgers. Last month, after Green Bay soundly beat the Bears, Rodgers declared to taunting fans: “I’ve owned you all my fucking life. I own you. I still own you. I still own you.”
Given that the hot dog stand remodeled with pandemic safety in mind, adding a back patio where customers can enjoy food outside under heat lamps without wearing masks, Rodgers’ stance struck a nerve with ownership: “We created this space in the midst of the pandemic and part of that was not knowing the future,” says Wieners Circle’s operations manager Brian Haines.
The restaurant requires vaccinations for all of its staff. Up in front, Haines says customers are required to wear their masks indoors as mandated by the city: “They all brought their vaccinations cards in,” Haines says. “We went through that early on.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers conducted his own research, even consulting with radio host Joe Rogan, who advocated using ivermectin to treat novel coronavirus symptoms. Back in August, Rodgers said at a press conference he was “immunized.” No one asked a follow-up question, so he never explained he wasn’t vaccinated. On the sports talk show the Pat McAfee Show on Friday, however, he clarified that his “immunization” came from homeopathic treatments, which he said he pursued on his own after careful study. On Saturday, Prevea, a chain of Wisconsin health clinics for whom Rodgers has been a spokesperson for the past nine years, announced it was ending the partnership, Forbes reports.
This has made Rodgers the butt of jokes all over the Internet and on Saturday Night Live and caused great glee in Chicago. Setting aside the fact that as the Packers’ quarterback, he wouldn’t be welcome in many spots in Chicago, here’s a list of places where Rodgers would be turned away because he couldn’t produce proof of vaccination.
Pilsen neighbors step up to support a popular paletero
A group of Pilsen residents have raised nearly $13,000 for a well-known neighborhood paletero as he recovers from a knee surgery that could end his career. Don Ananías Ocampo, 77, has made a living selling ice cream out of his cart for years but the physical strain of the job has resulted in numerous health concerns, including arthritis. His supporters have rallied around him and ultimately hope to bring in $18,000 via GoFundMe to help cover his rent and hire a home health care aide. The Sun-Times has the story.
Chicago and New City reveal best of 2021
Chicago magazine has released its December issue, with its list of Chicagoans of the Year and the annual accounting of the best things its writers ate in 2021. (The issue is not yet available online.) Among the Chicagoans of the Year is Parachute chef Beverly Kim, lauded for launching the Abundance Setting, a nonprofit that helps parents who work outside traditional 9-to-5 hours find childcare; at the top of the best dishes list is the baklava fro-yo at Andros Taverna, the work of pastry chef Hsing Chen. Meanwhile, over at New City, food writer David Hammond published his own list of best Chicago food experiences, a more personal and nostalgic read.
Crain’s 40 Under 40 list drops with F&B ties
Crain’s annual 40 Under 40 list dropped and there are three people with food and restaurant ties: Joe Flamm, the chef and co-owner at Rose Mary in Fulton Market; Jonathan Blackburn, a partner at Sidley Austin who helped Alinea Group co-founder Nick Kokonas sell his reservation portal, Tock, to Squarespace for $400 million; and Greg Stellatos, the founder of GoGrocer, the corner store chain with locations all over the city.
Ex-Charlie Trotter’s pastry chef signs on at suburban sandwich spot
Acclaimed pastry chef Jenny McCoy (Charlie Trotter’s, Blackbird, Emeril’s) has joined the team behind forthcoming restaurant Buck Russell’s Bakery & Sandwich Shop in suburban Wilmette, according to a rep. McCoy is a managing partner but will also helm the sweets selection with options like sticky buns and icebox cakes. Buck Russell’s is from Ballyhoo Hospitality, the Chicago area restaurant group behind local spots including Pomeroy in Winnetka, Coda di Volpe in Lakeview, and Gemini in Lincoln Park.
Hot chicken hit Fry the Coop unleashes new beer with Pipeworks Brewing
Nashville-style hot chicken mini-chain Fry the Coop has released its first collaborative beer, Chicken Vs. Unicorn, created in partnership with Chicago’s Pipeworks Brewing Company, according to a rep. Designed to compliment the restaurant’s spicy chicken sandwich, the beer is a pale ale with “notes of mango, melon, and wildflower honey.”