Author Topic: Hot Doug: Frugal restaurateur  (Read 5064 times)

rocklebock

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Hot Doug: Frugal restaurateur
« on: October 01, 2014, 08:39:35 PM »
For those who don't know it, Hot Doug's is a tiny and incredibly hyped restaurant in Chicago that's closing this week after 12 years. Obviously, it's a hot dog restaurant. You can get fancy gourmet hot dogs, traditional hot dogs, fries, and soda, and that's it. They have a line out the door every goddamn day, and it's reached truly ridiculous proportions this week. Is it really that good? you ask. All I can say is that I completely hate waiting in line. I am not one who waits in line for shit. I've waited in line for at Hot Doug's many times, and I never regretted it.

Hot Doug's is owned by a guy named Doug. I always figured Doug was making money hand over fist, given his very modest way of running the business (he works the front counter himself every day) and the hordes of customers. What I didn't know until I read this interview in the Chicago Tribune is that Doug is seriously committed to frugality (to the point that I wonder if he reads MMM) and attributes much of his success to it.

Full interview: http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/dining/chi-hot-dougs-the-exit-interview-20140929-story.html#page=2

Favorite excerpts:

Q. Are people crazy [for waiting in line for up to six hours for a hot dog]?

A: No. People spend $60,000 for a car. I think that's insane, when I have a 1995 Toyota Corolla that gets me where I want to go. I mean, it's not like they're waiting in your living room. If you don't want to wait for hot dogs, I'm not sending you a summons. Are people crazy to spend $500 on a meal? Someone binge watching “The Good Wife” for six hours is a good thing, but waiting for food isn't? I don't judge.


Q: Someone once offered you seven figures to franchise the restaurant. That would be hard for most people to turn down.

A: Any decision I've made that was purely for the money, I've always regretted.


Q: What's the best piece of advice you've received?

A: My grandfather said if you make $100 and you spend $101, you're in trouble.


The whole thing is full of observational gems, though.

Johnez

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Re: Hot Doug: Frugal restaurateur
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2014, 04:42:58 AM »
Pay walled.

Sucks, sounds like an interesting dude/restaurant. Why in the world is he closing if folks can stand in line 6 hours just to eat there?

basd

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Re: Hot Doug: Frugal restaurateur
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2014, 05:06:56 AM »
Pay walled.

Sucks, sounds like an interesting dude/restaurant. Why in the world is he closing if folks can stand in line 6 hours just to eat there?
Paste the URL to the article here:

http://www.readability.com/shorten

And then click 'Read Now' to read the article. Worked for me.

I won't vow for it being a 100% legal, but Readability itself is a legit site.

MandalayVA

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Re: Hot Doug: Frugal restaurateur
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2014, 07:11:38 AM »
RIP Hot Doug's on Serious Eats:  http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/05/a-love-letter-to-hot-dougs.html

I got to Hot Doug's once back in 2009.  It was a Friday, so that meant French fries cooked in duck fat, plus I got a Polish sausage.  Worth every second of the 1.5 hour wait to get in.  Doug was funny as hell too.  After reading that article I have even more respect for him, even as I'm sad that Hot Doug's is closing.

Eric

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Re: Hot Doug: Frugal restaurateur
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2014, 11:10:06 AM »
Pay walled.

Sucks, sounds like an interesting dude/restaurant. Why in the world is he closing if folks can stand in line 6 hours just to eat there?
Paste the URL to the article here:

http://www.readability.com/shorten

And then click 'Read Now' to read the article. Worked for me.

I won't vow for it being a 100% legal, but Readability itself is a legit site.

Thanks!  That worked for me.

That was a good Trib article.  I've ordered a couple of dogs from Doug.  That place was always busy.

I particularly dug this part:
Quote
Q: What would you have told your 22-year-old self?

A: I don't know. And this is where studying philosophy in college helped: I wouldn't be here if it were for all the decisions, good or bad, some that worked out and some didn't, all of which that lead to this point. I'm very content now. There were no wrong decisions. There were decisions. I get the “what will you do next” question a lot, and honestly I don't know. That's exciting.

senecando

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Re: Hot Doug: Frugal restaurateur
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2014, 11:18:43 AM »
My favorite part was the Timeline: The History of Encased Meats.

Numbers Man

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Re: Hot Doug: Frugal restaurateur
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2014, 12:09:02 PM »
I've been there. The food was good, but not worth waiting in line. I would get there about 11:15 am to avoid the lines.

rocklebock

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Re: Hot Doug: Frugal restaurateur
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2014, 07:06:38 PM »
Sorry about the paywall - thanks for the fix

Why in the world is he closing if folks can stand in line 6 hours just to eat there?

I think he just felt done with it, but who can say? He could also have sold the business for a kazillion dollars, but he didn't do that, either. Or he could have at least hired someone to manage the place and work the counter, but he came in and did it himself every day. My sense is that he's a bit of a control freak - not necessarily in a bad way, just that he only wants to do what he wants to do, the way he wants to do it.

Elderwood17

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Re: Hot Doug: Frugal restaurateur
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2014, 04:07:09 PM »
Why in the world is he closing if folks can stand in line 6 hours just to eat there?

I would have had no problems selling it when I was ready to move on!

Beric01

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Re: Hot Doug: Frugal restaurateur
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2014, 04:27:36 PM »
Why in the world is he closing if folks can stand in line 6 hours just to eat there?

I would have had no problems selling it when I was ready to move on!

But that's the point. He doesn't want to sell it. He wants to close it in the peak of his reputation. He would not have gotten this kind of attention if he had just sold it off, and the quality slowly declined over the years in his absence. Now his name will make Chicago history. ;)

Even Steven

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Re: Hot Doug: Frugal restaurateur
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2014, 10:08:46 AM »
You guys motivated me to write something about Hot Doug, here's a link if anyone wants to take a read.

http://www.evenstevenmoney.com/how-a-guy-selling-hot-dogs-retired-early/