Dough Sohn, owner of Hot Doug's

Dough Sohn, owner of Hot Doug's (Tribune File photo / May 2, 2012)

The man who graced Chicago with Hot Doug's super sausages is now asking customers for a little something in return: their memories.

Doug Sohn, owner of the self-proclaimed  meat emporium in Irving Park, wants to permanently encase the meat memories of patrons in an upcoming book that will showcase a history of the Chicago-staple restaurant.

"I want the book to have the same feeling as the restaurant--irreverent, unique and fun," Sohn said. "I didn't want to do a linear history or a cookbook."

Instead, diners are encouraged to submit their favorite Hot Doug's memories in the form of poems, pictures, drawings, stories and other odes to tubular meats by emailing HotDougsTheBook@gmail.com or submitting to the Hot Doug's Facebook page.

Sohn said the book, like the restaurant, wouldn't be complete without its faithful following of customers. And besides, the more contributions that are made, the "less work I have to do," Sohn joked.

Hot Doug's; The Book will be released in spring 2013 by local publisher Agate Publishing. Sohn said he had been approached to do a book before, but didn't want to commit unless the book could blend history, community and experience. And what better way than asking customers to describe those feelings in their own words.

"I want to be able to remember everything," said Sohn, who can often be found taking orders and slinging dogs in the front of house. "My favorite part of the job is getting to know the customers, even though I know that doesn't always do wonders for the line."

Angie Garbot, a Chicago-based photographer, said she used to frequent the original Hot Doug's location with her hot-dog aficionado father. But besides the food, her favorite part about the joint is the friendly atmosphere.

"There's something special about the owner being out front and in the daily ins and outs of a local business," Garbot said. "It's becoming a rarer and rarer thing. And even though the dogs all have fun, kitschy names, the product is top-notch. No kitsch there."

Garbot is excited for the book's release and can't wait to see other customer's photographs, especially in the age of iPhones and Instagram.

For Sohn, he thinks it's safe to assume the food at that book release party will be just as big of a hit as the book itself.

"I didn't think (Hot Doug's) would make it past six months, let alone have a book," Sohn said.


Melanie Zanona is a RedEye special contributor