The Wieners Circle – Chicago, Illinois - Gastro Obscura

When Larry Gold opened The Wieners Circle in 1983, he probably didn’t suspect it would become famous for mistreating customers. Gold, himself, though started it. The hot dog stand stays open ‘til 5am on the weekends and attracts hungry customers from the local bars. From the beginning, in the wealthy Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, the customers were not always the nicest or most attentive. One night in 1992, Gold was trying to get a patron’s attention, and, when typical pleas didn’t work, Gold yelled out, “Hey asshole.”

In the years since, the name-calling and yelling has escalated, as the mainly black staff has been provoked by their white and wealthy clientele, who, in some ways, must enjoy being called names. In a city as segregated as Chicago, racial tensions can run high, and, on rare occasions, things get physical. But, business has nearly doubled since the Wiener’s Circle gained this hot-headed reputation, and the staff say the tips are good. Staff members have stayed more than ten years.

Many will tell you, though, that at its core The Wieners Circle is a nice, family-owned hot dog stand. Before the drunken weekend nights begins, you’ll find local families enjoying french fries and char-dogs with the works.

Know Before You Go

For late night adult entertainment, ask after 8pm to get a chocolate shake, a secret menu item that only locals seem to know.

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September 30, 2009

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