The heavy Friday storms couldn't deter the Hot Doug’s devotees who camped out along the 2900 block of Roscoe Avenue Thursday night and Friday morning for one last bite of the famous sausages.
And from Max Simmons, the very first person in line, to Joe Hehl, the very last, it was one last chance to thank Doug Sohn for everything he’s done over the years.
“People love Doug,” Hehl said, as shivered in the cold morning drizzle.
Simmons, a regular for the last seven years who also ate at Hot Doug’s on Thursday, said that even in the midst of the mad rush, the restaurant’s atmosphere never changed. “I thought maybe yesterday with the line being super long, Doug’s just going to be rushing through,” Simmons said. “But it was just like any other day. He chatted with you and he hung out for a couple minutes. It was the same as it always was.”
The long line had a carnival-like atmosphere—especially with balloon artist Scott Ingerson strolling along the groups of hot dog lovers. Ingerson handed out hot dog shaped balloon hats to anyone who wanted one.
“I’ve done mustard before,” he said while inflating a yellow balloon. “There’s only one rule: no ketchup.”
Ingerson wasn't the only one going up and down the line. Holly McDonald of Chicago Votes registered fifteen new voters, and Tom Feeney garnered signatures for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election campaign. And Sohn’s girlfriend, Barbara Tyksinski, and her sister Susan brought donuts and coffee.
Waiting patrons passed the time with small talk and smartphones. Lane Tech alum Jonathan Rodriguez enjoyed his last few hours before reporting for National Guard duty on Saturday morning. One group even played a round of Halo 3 war games thanks to a generator, a game console, and a break in the rain.
When the doors opened at 10:30 a.m., a cheer went up. At the counter, Sohn posed for photos and shook every grateful hand that reached toward him.
Sohn had decided long ago that he would like to be the last person served at the restaurant. When I spoke to Sohn, he still hadn’t decided what he was going to order.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll ask ‘What’s good here?’” he said.
Before the end, every Hot Doug’s customer, from Simmons to Sohn, stood next to the sign bearing the name of Friday’s final celebrity sausage, Barbara Tyksinski. Tyksinski said having her name on the sign wasn’t hitting the big time. “The big time is when I get to ride off into the sunset with Doug,” she said.