Dog N Suds

By Caryl Clem

The lure of extra money propelled 2 university music professors Don Hamacher and Jim Griggs to open a stand in 1953.  Every college campus offered cheap food hotspots; University Of Illinois in Champaign was no exception. A nothing fancy, DogNSuds Drive In, serving dogs and root beer evolved into a 68 year old company.  How?  Legendary DogNSuds was a lucky merger between a satisfied older lady customer offering cash support and an unforgettable logo. Read on for the real story……

“ Brother, what was your most memorable experience?”  He sat back in his chair, his eyes brightening.   He started, “This is a story not in print but true. I played a part in the DogNSuds logo formation.  A contest was held, the winner would be the emblem for Don and Jim’s growing company venture. Professors I knew.  My fraternity roommate drew the final draft of our combined ideas.   First, an animal Americans’ love had to be selected.  Almost in unison, several young men shouted,” A Dog” !  Perfect connection to hot dogs on the menu. Time debating on what action the dog would do. No agreement until a collection of ideas resulted in a logical conclusion, a dog carrying a tray of food.  My roommate and I exchanged ideas drawing the image, The Winner !.  The intensity of team spirit that night I will never forget.”

The first logo, Disney felt infringed on their characters, so the dog went through a face lift.  During the age of muscle cars, a trip to the drive in was an event showing off your vehicle . The Ingleside DogNSuds  started the practice of “Saturday Night Cruising”.  A magazine commented that by the 1960’s if the town had a stoplight, it had a Dog N Suds. Beginning in 1963, 2 locations still open today are: Richmond, IL. that remains a small family run business  and Grayslake , IL .under new management of the 5th owner.

After declining  sales during the 80’s DogNSuds was sold to Van Dame company in 1991 ; eventually all rights  went  to the current company TK&C’s LLC. The joy taking a trip to one of those Drive Ins will never fade for me. Celebrating summer, cruising, munching  on a Coney dog while sipping frothy stick to your lips root beer. Memories carried in the heat of a summer breeze. Take a trip back in time by reading a book by one of the Cofounders, Don Hamacher: The Journey Through The Life Of Don Hamacher released in 2012.

Fond memories of fine dining: Restaurants now extinct

Fine dining was a special favorite for my Dad and we went to a new place frequently. He was a business owner and that was the way he felt he could thank those that purchased his product. That was the way he thought he could teach his only child manners and grace. Though, I loved to explore new places , it was always the same as far as my food choice, a kiddie cocktail and a steak sandwich/medium rare without the bread. After he passed away, my Mother continued the tradition with me through the decades. Though long gone and my list could go on and on, I just included places that I had visited in the outlining suburbs/towns of Chicago back in the day.

Green Shingle in Harvey had exemplified true love from the early 60’s. It with my first date with my Dad in my best dress, shoes and gloves. It was my first steak sandwich medium rare but would not be last.After my Dad passed away, it was my second date with my college professor who helped to celebrate my birthday with fellow students;  that same college professor who passed away from cancer a few years ago. And finally, a date with my first boyfriend as we first held hands at the candlelit tabkle; killed in a car accident shortly after.

Dunlaps started as a concession but moved in 1937 to its Palos Heights location on 123rd lasting for 60 years. My father owned a business in decorative and auto glass. One of his clients was Dunlaps in which he created the smoked glass that enhanced visitors behind the long, bar still in exquisite condition when the restaurant closed. Even as a child and adult, I remember staring at my self, proud of my family contributing some part to an institution for great food including real relish trays with pickled beets.

Yesteryear in Kankakee,IL was a restaurant situated in the Frank Lloyd Wright home the B. Harley Bradley House located on Harrison Avenue. In the early 1940’s, my Mother lived in Kempton, IL and wanted to go to college. She rented a room from the Gates family who lived in the 400 block of Harrison Avenue  and attended Kankakee’s Business College.  The Gates, George, Ruth  and son Les became her adopted  family until they passed away in the late 1970’s. Les, who is 94, is still alive today. As a very young child, we would walk to Yesteryear which had opened in 1953. As a young adult, I attended a 50th anniversary of a family member from Cullom, IL.

Phil Schmidts, on the border of Illinois in Indiana, had been opened for 97 years . It was a place of many memories that included the celebration of events such as graduation parties. Known for their seafood, their most popular was frog legs and perch. Beginning in 1910 and closing in 2007, also made their own amazing tartar sauce.

The Tivoli on Glenwood Rd in Chicago Heights was also a favorite establishment especially for weddings or other family events. Though older when I visited the Tivoli, I had graduated from a steak sandwich to a wonderful porterhouse they served there and a broiled filet mignon topped with blue cheese.

The Old Barn in Burbank was a beautiful, elegant adventure for me as a child and adult dating back to the 1920’s when it originally was a speakeasy during Prohibition. Another great choice for wedding receptions and family dinners which had closed in 2008 and was 87 years. The Old Barn was especially beautiful during the holidays with leather chairs in the dining area and beautiful sofas and fireplace in the lounge.

Country Squire in Grayslake, IL was originally built in 1938 as the residence of a Sears family member and it was a mansion that became the Country Squire Restaurant in 1954. A breathtaking estate that I enjoyed often as an adult, experiencing on a date and also enjoying a wonderful wedding of a dear friend. I remember celebrating Mother’s Day with my own Mom  as she cried for its beauty and wonderful food.

The Flame, finally, in Countryside became another family favorite celebrating the same Mom’s  65th birthday there with her grandchildren. The restaurant was a classic with another dress me up atmosphere and the best in seafood and steak.  My love still was always steak or a Chateaubriand for two and for Mom, the best orange roughy she had ever tasted!