The Wieners Circle

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Coordinates: 41°55′48″N 87°38′37″W / 41.93°N 87.643611°W / 41.93; -87.643611

The Wieners Circle
Wieners Circle IMG 2083.jpg
Restaurant information
Food type Hot dog stand
City Lincoln Park, Chicago
State Illinois
Country United States
Other locations Las Vegas, Nevada [1]
Website[citation needed]

The Wieners Circle is a hot dog stand on Clark street in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, United States.[2] It is known for its Maxwell Street Char-dogs, hamburgers, cheese fries, and the mutual verbal abuse[3] between the employees and the customers during the late-weekend hours.


A Wieners Circle hot dog with "the works"
the prices in 2013
'Trump Footlong'[4] on the menu in 2016
Two Trump Footlongs

The establishment is known for its char-grilled food, especially its hot dogs and hamburgers (commonly called char-dogs and char-burgers).[5] A Wiener Circle char dog with "the works" is a grilled Vienna Beef hot dog on a warm poppy seed bun, topped with mustard, onions, relish, dill pickle spears, tomato slices, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt.


The interior of the establishment, covered in graffiti (photographed in 2011).

The Weiners Circle opened for business in 1983.[6] Sometime in the early 1990s (circa 1992[7]) Larry Gold, one of the proprietors, called a drunk and distracted customer an "a**hole" in order to get his attention. This set off the late-night abuse culture of the restaurant. The atmosphere can range from playful to hostile.[8] The language used by both the staff and customers during these hours is notoriously foul and aggressive.[9] On the weekends, the establishment stays open as late as 5:00 am, drawing many drunken customers who have arrived from bars and clubs.[8]

The nightly tips are very high, and people have worked there for ten years or more.[8] The location of the hot dog stand is just north of what used to be the Wrightwood Hotel.[10] In 2008, the restaurant was briefly closed by health inspectors for not having hot running water where employees would wash their hands, and other food safety violations.[11]

In March 2016, the restaurant offered 3-inch 'Trump footlong' hot dogs.[12][13][14][15][16]

In media[edit]

One of the more famous employees is Roberta "Poochie" Jackson, who was featured (along with the restaurant) in a 2007 episode of the Showtime television version of the Chicago Public Radio program This American Life,[8] as well as an episode of Extreme Fast Food on the Travel Channel. In Chicago travel guides, The Wieners Circle is often extolled as a source for authentic Chicago-style hot dogs and its uniquely abrasive customer relations.[citation needed] Journalist Catherine Price listed The Wieners Circle in her book 101 Places Not to See Before You Die, calling it "a microcosm of segregation in Chicago",[17] and commenting, "If our metric were 'places that make me sad about humanity,' late night at Wiener's Circle would have been at the top."[2]

The restaurant was featured in an episode of Insomniac with Dave Attell on Comedy Central in 2002.[episode needed]

The restaurant is the setting for a truTV reality game show.[18][19]

The Wieners Circle was featured in both radio and TV episodes of This American Life.[20]

The restaurant was the setting of a sketch featuring Jack McBrayer and Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog in the June 14, 2012 episode of the late night talk show Conan, which was the last in a week of shows taped in Chicago.[21]

The restaurant was featured in an episode of the Extreme Fast Food specials on the Travel Channel.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Borrelli, Christopher (June 20, 2010), "101 Places Not to See Before You Die", Chicago Tribune (Tribune Company), retrieved June 1, 2011 
  3. ^ Tribune, Chicago. "The Wiener's Circle, Chicago's rudest hot dog stand, is sold". Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  4. ^ "The Wiener's Circle celebrates Trump's Chicago visit with 3-inch hot dogs". March 11, 2016. 
  5. ^ Berg, Eric N. (July 25, 1990), "At the Nation's Table", The New York Times (The New York Times Company), retrieved June 1, 2011 
  6. ^ "Wiener's Circle opening in Las Vegas". 
  7. ^ "The Wieners Circle". 
  8. ^ a b c d This American Life. "Act II, In Wiener Veritas, from Pandora's Box", No. 6, season 1, April 26, 2007.
  9. ^ McMurry, Joel F. S. (November 21, 2009), "The Wieners Circus", STOCKYARD (Stockyard Media), retrieved June 1, 2011 
  10. ^ Apel, Melanie Ann (2002), Lincoln Park, Chicago (Arcadia Publishing), p. 26, ISBN 0-7385-2016-0  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ Staff (December 19, 2008), "Health Dept. Shuts Down Wiener's Circle", Chicago Breaking News (Tribune Company), retrieved June 20, 2012 
  12. ^ RedEye. "The Wiener's Circle welcomes Donald Trump with 3-inch hot dog deal". Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  13. ^ "Donald dogs: Famous Chicago eatery welcomes Trump with tiny wieners (PHOTOS)". RT International. Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  14. ^ "The Wiener's Circle welcomes Donald Trump with 3-inch Chicago hot dog". Time Out Chicago. Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  15. ^ "The Wiener's Circle celebrates Trump's Chicago visit with 3-inch hot dogs". ABC7 Chicago. Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  16. ^ "Wiener's Circle rolls out 3-inch 'Trump Footlong'". March 10, 2016. 
  17. ^ Price, Catherine (2010), 101 Places Not to See Before You Die, HarperCollins, pp. 137–138, ISBN 0-06-178776-0 
  18. ^ Abernethy, Samantha (March 16, 2012). "This Exists: A Reality Show About Wiener's Circle". Chicagoist.
  19. ^ The Wieners Circle, 2012-02-01, retrieved 2016-03-12 
  20. ^ "A Night at the Wiener Circle". This American Life. August 23, 1996. 
  21. ^ "The Day Lake Michigan Got Renamed What It Should've Been Called in the First Place – Lake Illinois!". Conan. Season 2. Episode 104. June 14, 2012. TBS. 
  22. ^ "Travel Channel Wins Lawsuit Over Filming at Racy Hot Dog Stand". 

External links[edit]