Hungry Hound: Superdawg turns 60

CHICAGO Restaurants often make a big deal about making a 5- or 10-year anniversary. While those years are a sign of success, one Northwest Side drive-in is turning 60 this week. And, luckily, not much has changed.

There are older places of course. Take the Italian Village in the Loop, or Al's Italian Beef on Taylor. But at Superdawg, you'll still see founders Maurie and Flaurie Berman hanging around- either talking to customers or making sure their kids are doing a good job running the place. It's been a labor of love for six decades. And, thank goodness they haven't changed with the times.

Fast food may not have the best reputation, but there is something reassuring, something so perfect, in a child's simple request, "I want a hot dog."

That's pretty much been the refrain for the past six decades at Superdawg, a Norwood Park legend, and one of the only Drive-Ins still standing.

Scott Berman is second generation hot dog royalty. His parents, Maurie and Flaurie started the business after they graduated from college. It was supposed to be a temporary endeavor.

"I guess we... the creativity, the feeling of us doing it ourselves - we were 22 years old when we began, on 50 feet of rented ground - so, it was a wonderful feeling of growth and exploration and growing up," said Flaurie Berman, Superdawg.

That was exactly sixty years ago, and thankfully, not a lot on the menu has changed. Oh sure, you can now get whoopskidogs (that's a grilled polish with grilled onions in an onion roll) but the legendary Superdawg remains iconic. It's not Vienna Beef, like most other hot dog stands, but rather, a recipe of their own; and while the mustard, neon green relish, onions, pickles and sport peppers are consistent, you won't find red tomatoes here, but rather, the pickled green variety.

"We were much more interested, sincerely, much more interested in the product and what we were serving, rather than the profits, (which) would come later," said Maurie Berman, Superdawg.

Flaurie still works on the weekends, and son-in-law Don is usually running around, talking to employees or customers. In the summertime, the parking lot is full of cars, and people inside of them, happily munching on Superdawgs, whoopsie cheesys, thick shakes and krinkle fries. Maurie says the drive-in's appeal reaches across all generations.

"We are a drive-in, which was something that was not totally uncommon in '48, but it has become more and more so recently."

The Bermans say Superdawg isn't going anywhere. In fact, Maurie says with a sly grin that the third generation is now poised to carry on the tradition.

"We think that uh, the pattern has been pretty well established," said Maurie.

After 60 years, it's time for an expansion. So, the family is planning on opening a Superdawg in Wheeling early next year. It will be twice the size as the original.


6363 N. Milwaukee Ave.


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