RIVER NORTH — Beloved hot dog joint Hot Doug's has had a long-standing policy that rewards customers who ink themselves with the restaurant's logo with "free hot dogs for life."
Coming to the rescue is Sempurna Restoration Clinic, a River North laser center that announced Tuesday they would offer 50 percent off tattoo removal services for customers looking to zap the Hot Doug's mascot.
"Hot Doug’s offered free hot dogs for life to people who sported a tattoo of its logo," said Cleighton DePetro, the clinic's director. "Since the tattoos are outlasting the restaurant, we are giving people an out."
The clinic at 220 W. Huron St. has a history of tongue-in-cheek tattoo removal deals. Last Halloween, they ran a contest looking for the "scariest tattoo" — referring to ink that's terrifyingly bad, DePetro specified, not spooky — and gave away 10 free removal sessions to the winner.
The number of laser sessions required to fully remove a tattoo can vary widely, and pricing is based per square inch, with an average of three to 12 treatments required to erase ink completely, according to the clinic.
Typically, they charge $49 per square inch per treatment, though that price will be halved if you come in to get a bespectacled, anthropomorphized hot dog zapped.
Sempurna's DePetro said he realizes many Chicagoans won't want to part with their Hot Doug's ink.
"True Hot Doug’s fanatics will probably want to keep their tattoos," he said. "For others, the reminder of the closing of their favorite place for duck-fat fries and fancy dogs will be too painful."
One fan with the iconic cartoon hot dog inked just above his left elbow was at the restaurant Tuesday after news broke that the stand had just a few months left. He said he doesn't regret the lifelong tribute to the eatery.
"When I decided to get it, [owner Doug Sohn], as a caveat, he said...Hot Doug's is not forever," he said. Now, it's "one in a collection of many, many dumb tattoos. So it's a story."
To get a Hot Doug's tattoo removed at half price, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (312) 255-8051 for a free consultation.