SOUTH LOOP — DePaul students make up such a huge sector of Devil Dawgs' business that owner Alan Katz knows the school's exam schedules based on the ebbs and flows of traffic to his Lincoln Park eatery.
So when he considered where to open the second, larger outpost of his no-frills, hot dog-centric restaurant, Katz says the South Loop was an easy choice.
"I love the college student market. It keeps my energy level young," Katz said, noting that the South Loop houses Columbia College, Roosevelt University, East-West University and many more institutions and student residences, on top of Jones College Prep a few blocks away.
At the Lincoln Park Devil Dawgs, "the students know me 'cause I'm there every day...I employ their friends, which is a win-win for both of us: I get to help them with their education, and they bring youth to the place."
Devil Dawgs at 767 S. State St. will seat 24, expanding its square footage from the Lincoln Park original, along with its menu.
A Culinary Institute of America-trained chef who's been in the business for decades, Katz spent the last six months developing new menu items like the Seoul dog, which includes house-made kimchee, and the Elvis burger, with bacon, cheese, sriracha and peanut butter.
He's also throwing his hat into the milkshake market, and will debut a new drink menu with highlights like ancho chile and pretzel-salted caramel concoctions churned out by an old-school mixer at the front counter.
He hopes to serve the neighborhood's diverse mix of "students, blue collar workers and corporate types," but said students hold a special place in his heart.
"We want to be a fresh, creative and cost-effective for the students, which enables them to come two to three times a day and late nights for meals," he said.
Katz says he's eyeing Jan. 15 for a soft opening with a grand opening event to follow, but that timeline isn't firm yet. If the restaurant hits any snags that delay its opening in January, Katz will make sure they're up and running in time for one of his favorite events — parents' weekend at his neighboring schools.
"They come in on parents day saying 'I gotta know why my kids — why my charge card has 'Devil Dawgs' on it 40 times for the month,'" he said. "And after they eat there, they go, 'I get it.' It's so sweet. That's the payoff for me.
"It's not about the money. It's about knowing they walk away feeling like they got their money's worth, and enjoyed their meal," he said. "That's the beauty of it."