As Chicago’s restaurant community wipes the sleep from their eyes after a James Beard Awards night that saw a pair of victories, leave it to Vienna Beef to drop some big news that will really appeal to locals: After a three-year slumber, they’re spending $20 million to bring back its North Side factory store and hot dog stand.
Of course, this news might also appeal to New Yorkers, the sausage manufacturer’s new frontier. Maybe next year, the Big Apple will churn out a James Beard-winning hot dog stand to help that city’s struggling restaurant scene.
Regardless, the resuscitation of Vienna’s North Side store brings the wieners back to Elston, Damen, and Fullerton, an intersection that went under major construction. The company says they’re investing $20 million in the project — to gut the building to make room for a store, offices, and the restaurant. They’ll also fill the building with memorabilia from the sausage maker’s 130-year-old history. The project should open in 2024, according to a news release. While North Siders lost their minds about the factor’s closure in 2020, South Siders sat back with the assurance that its Bridgeport factory store remained open. That location won’t be impacted by this new project.
In total, there are 150,000 square feet of space and the company plans to create a landscaped park area with 80 trees and hundreds of plants, according to a news release. Perhaps Vienna is gearing up for the ultimate sausage fest, as the company sees potential to host outdoor and indoor events. Other tenants will also fill up the space.
The restaurant will feature Chicago hot dogs, Polish sausages, burgers, and fries. “High-end fast food,” is how the company describes it. The store is also perilously close to a Home Depot on Elston, home of Fixin’ Franks where they sell hot dogs from Makowksi’s Real Sausage Company and wagyu offerings from Vander Farms. A few blocks north, Polish sausage specialist Jim’s Original opened its second location on Damen and Diversey.
Beyond the interest in selling encased meats outside the Chicago market, Vienna is also trying more modern means of marketing. Their social media team recently recorded a video spoofing Wes Anderson at Duk’s Red Hots in West Town.
Vienna Beef Factory Store, 2501 N. Damen Avenue, planned for a 2024 opening.