Harry's Hot Dogs closes after 63 years

March 11, 2009 3:36:22 PM PDT
Harry Hefeman just can't get enough of hard work. Even at the age of 100.He opened his hot dog stand, Harry's Hot Dogs, in Chicago's Loop in 1946. Since then, it's been work, work, work.

Until now. Harry's Hot Dog Stand, located in the historic Showmen's League Building at the corner of Randolph and Franklin, is scheduled for demolition.

Harry moved into the building 63 years ago.

"My wife and I opened up this restaurant. My wife was the cashier and I was the cook," said Hefeman.

In two months, Harry's Hot Dogs will meet the wrecking ball to make room for two new high-rise buildings. Harry's place will become a plaza.

"It doesn't feel very well. I'm very sad about the building going down. But they promised me they'd put a chair outside and name it Harry's Hot Dogs," said Hefeman.

For customers who've been stopping in for breakfast and lunch, the stand will be missed.

"Character! Fast food cannot replace Mom and Pop ... ever," said John McDermott, customer.

The building has a lot of character- and history. In 1913, it opened under the Showmen's League, which was established to help circus and carnival workers with their careers. The Showmen's first president is Buffalo Bill Cody.

The second legend ? Harry Hefeman, of course. He turns 100 on Sunday.

Born in Hungary in 1909, Hefeman came to the U.S. as a kid, and followed his dreams in Chicago And, no, he's not stopping now.

"I'll keep working somewhere," said Hefeman, who never plans to retire.

Hefeman eats his own hot dogs, Polish, burgers and corned beef. He credits his own food with his long life.

"That's my secret," said Hefeman.