LAKEVIEW — When Lucas Pearson saw his pizza delivery guy Monday night, he threw his arms up in delight and gave a celebratory shout.
"You coming up? You're coming to my house? Do you want to hang out for awhile?" he eagerly asked Doug Sohn. "How have you been? What the hell are you doing all day, besides delivering pizza?"
That's a question many asked Sohn — of the celebrated but now shuttered Hot Doug's — as he partnered with Piece Brewery and Pizzeria to deliver pizzas and promote his special Atomic Pizza for a good cause.
Sohn surprised Piece Out customers by delivering free pizzas from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday while explaining how Piece was helping Pilotlight, a nonprofit organization that provides nutrition information to schools with the help of chefs and food professionals as a means to combat obesity.
Since Hot Doug's closed in October, Sohn has been enjoying a self-described sabbatical, traveling and catching up with friends. But when Piece owner Bill Jacobs asked if he would create a special pizza to help raise money for Pilotlight, Sohn jumped at the chance.
For the month of March, Sohn's Atomic Bomb pizza — featuring his signature Atomic sausage, caramelized onions and pepper jack cheese — is available at Piece. In addition, 10 percent of all pizza sales benefit Pilotlight.
"What we did at Hot Doug's was really simple. There weren't a lot of ingredients going on, so I thought we should have a pizza like that. I'm also a big fan of contrast, sweet/salty or sweet/spicy. So we tried that out, and it seemed to work really well," Sohn said. "Thank goodness, because I had no other ideas."
Sohn's creation has been wildly popular, with almost 100 sold every day so far in March. The specialty pie has outpaced two others — a Honey Butter Fried Chicken pie and a goat chili pizza created by Girl and the Goat's Stephanie Izard — which were offered in January and February.
The three partnerships should generate about $10,000 for Pilotlight by the end of the month, Jacobs estimated. As for customers, they're "raving" over the Atomic pizza, he said.
The Atomic (Hot Doug’s pizza) at @piecechicago is delicious!! Be sure to try it before the end of the month!— shandelle (@shandelle) March 15, 2015
Sohn said he doesn't see a day where he's not known for Hot Doug's, although he is starting to think about his next job. Even while delivering pizzas, he was recognized by passersby, who greeted him with handshakes and hugs before asking how he was.
"I'm doing great. Watching a lot of hockey, reading the paper in the morning," Sohn said. And meeting fans of Hot Doug's, even five months after selling his last dog, is "awesome. I'm running into people all over the city, and it's really cool."
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