A book to relish: The story of Hot Doug

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His quirky menu, cartoon like restaurant and scrumptious hot dogs have caught the attention of kids and food critics alike and now Doug Sohn, the owner of Hot Doug’s on the northwest side is branching out  But not to another location.

Doug is branching out into the book business.

True to his mission of keeping things simple and good, Doug has just released “Hot Doug’s: The Book.”  It’s a simple tome chock full of tales of how his small, local restaurant made it big.

Hot Doug’s is a crazy, busy restaurant on the northwest side of Chicago open from 10a.m. – 4 p.m., six days a week. Hungry fans line up in the heat.  They line up in the cold. For 12 ½ years,  bite after bite, customers keep coming back.

But the question is, are his loyal followers coming for the hot dogs or do they keep coming because of Doug?

Doug has made it clear the people fuel his business and despite repeated requests, he doesn’t care to expand. But Hot Doug addicts now have a new way to curb their cravings with his new book. Over 200 pages filled with stories, pictures and even poetry about how Doug’s got its start. There’s plenty about the colorful owner with a love for 70’s music and wiener centric wall hangings and the figurines.

Hot Doug's The Book is available now

Hot Doug’s The Book is available now

But the rest is about his clientele; Their love for his sausage store and even their permanent tattoos paying homage to his house of encased meats. Over 80 people eat for free now that they have inked “Doug’s” on their body.

The bright pages light up just like the restaurant. It details the city’s Foie gras fiasco that left Doug with a $250 fine. It reveals more about the 2004 fire that shut down Doug’s first restaurant for 8 months.

It also gives you a window into the restaurant’s key to success: hard work, dedication and luck. So says Doug himself.

“I want you to have not just a place where you’re just getting some food and moving on. But there is an element of happiness,” he said.

And it’s all in there, in the restaurant and in the book. There is page after page of lots of laughs, a man pushing the gastronomic limits and a loyal following as long as this woman’s tattooed leg.

“I don’t want to look at spreadsheets,” he says. “I want to talk to customers. I want to make stuff up as we go along. I want to listen to the 70’s one hit wonders. That’s the part of the job that I like.”

And he happens to make a pretty tasty dog, too.

The book is out now and available at retail and online booksellers as well as Hot Doug’s Website.

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