Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Raging Controversies Of Our Times
I played hooky yesterday.
I realized that I had a bunch of unused sick days, so Adam, who is already on summer vacation, came home with me from his Father's Day ball game Sunday, and we hung out.
Monday morning, I made my sick call ("cough, cough") and I fed him his favorite breakfast of Lox, white rice and french-cut green beans.
Afterward, we played a game of of Risk, and headed out to his favorite restaurant, Hot Doug's, just a few blocks away from our home. The picture at the top is of Adam with Doug Sohn, the owner.
Doug and his restaurant were in the news recently: the city of Chicago passed a ban on foie gras, and fined Doug $250 for serving it.
Hot Doug's is no ordinary hot dog joint. Sure, you can get a regular dog for a very reasonable price, which is what Adam prefers. But yesterday, I got the "Dave Kingman," a spicy Sante Fe chicken sausage, with everything (no bun-- I have celiac disease). Doug is a graduate of Kendall College, a highly-regarded local culinary school. He mixes gourmet cooking with his dogs-- for instance, a couple of days a week, he serves french fries cooked in duck fat. There was an alligator sausage on the specials menu yesterday.
Doug's "encased meat emporium" as he dubs it, was originally located near Roscoe and Western, about a half mile from where it is now. A few years ago, there was a fire within the building his business was located in, which closed him up for nearly a year. He was was smart enough to have "loss of business" insurance, and between that and the regular insurance, he could have walked away and worked for someone else. Instead, he opened up shop in a newer, less established location. And it worked. If you go by on the hottest day in the summer or the coldest day in the winter, people are literally lined up out the door to purchase their lunch there.
The city did not appreciate that he reopened his business, providing jobs and tax revenue for Chicago. They fined him $250 for his foie gras infraction-- and made Chicago the laughingstock of the world. Even our Mayor Daley publicly denounced the law and the decision-- he pointed out that there are far bigger problems in Chicago that the city council should be tackling.
As Adam and I talked to Doug yesterday-- Adam making his usual offer to buy Doug's restaurant-- I pointed out to Sohn that the New York Times had covered the story. Doug added that the International Herald Tribune had covered it, and told us, chuckling, that the city inspector who'd been made to go and cite Doug for the violation (Doug has the citation framed) had pointed out that Doug had gotten far more than $250 worth of publicity out of it.
Doug was quick to add, however, that this had not been his intent-- "Being a smartass was my intent. The publicity was an extra."