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Sam's Red Hots Calls It Quits After More Than 70 Years In Bucktown

By Alisa Hauser | August 29, 2016 9:28am
 Sam's Red Hots in Bucktown is all boarded up.
Sam's Red Hots in Bucktown is all boarded up.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

BUCKTOWN — Sam's Red Hots, a popular family-owned hot dog stand that spanned four generations and two owners in Bucktown, has closed.

Ruth Fischer, 86, of Highland Park, said her son who ran the stand for years is ill.

"We told [the workers] on Monday not to order anything anymore. We gave all the helpers extra pay. It was sudden," said Fischer.

Fischer's 61-year-old son, Steven Kaplan, owns Sam's Red Hots, which closed for good on Saturday, the day after Kaplan underwent surgery, his mom said.

Located at 2345 W. Armitage Ave., just east of Western Avenue, the stand is believed to have opened in the 1940s, according to Fischer.

It only offered a walk-up window and was known for serving Red Hot Chicago brand hot dogs, Polish sausages, tamales and crinkle cut fries.

Fischer's first husband, the late Dr. Leslie Kaplan, bought the stand from the original owner Sam Gillis in 1971, she said.

On Saturday, Fischer said she presided over the boarding up of the stand's windows.

"Everybody had a sob story. People came up to us. Gray-haired guys told us, 'My grandpa took me here as a treat for doing homework,' " Fischer said.

RELATED: Chicago's Oldest Hot Dog Stands Have Stayed Within Families for Years

Tim Grace, a Uber driver who grew up in Bucktown, noticed the stand was closed while driving past it on Sunday. 

"Another bastion of Bucktown, Sam's Red Hots, has bitten the dust. I can remember the first time my Dad brought me here to buy a hot dog and tamale, probably around 1962. Driving Uber near my former lifetime stomping grounds, I just had to temporarily switch off the Uber app and snap a few photos for posterity," Grace posted on his Facebook page. 

The triangular lot that houses the tiny stand will be going up for sale on Monday, Fischer said.


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