THE LOOP — Things have gone from bad to wurst for Chicago hot dog aficionados.
Westminster Hot Dog, a 3-year-old Loop storefront restaurant at 11 N. Wells St. known for making its own sausages daily, will close up shop after serving lunch until 3 p.m. Thursday.
Owners blamed months of poor weather for dissuading customers. The single-room, 15-stool dog stand could be cold in winter and hot in summer.
"Basically, we have about a three-hour window to make money, five days a week, and when it rains or snows for three months there's not much you can do," said owner Mike Wojcik Thursday as the shop was opening for the final time. "And the rent's really high down here."
When the weather obliged, however, it could still attract customers in a line going out the door. Westminster set out to do Hot Doug's one better by making its own gourmet sausages. It won praise for unique offerings like the jalapeno-bacon sausage, served with chipotle mayonnaise, which Wojcik said was the most popular item on the menu.
But making sausages daily led popular offerings to sell out before the end of business. And some reviews were not kind, calling some of the sausages "indistinguishable" from one another, although the chili, and especially the occasionally offered pulled-pork chili, had their own devotees.
Hot Doug's, the renowned Avondale dog stand that all but created the movement toward gourmet hot dogs, enjoying long lines down the block daily, jolted dog lovers last week when owner Doug Sohn announced he'd be closing in October.
Wojcik said there were no plans to open elsewhere, but he'll continue a catering service and teaching sausage-making classes. "There is no real brick-and-mortar in the near future, but maybe down the road," he added.