Pogo, an old co-worker of mine with a lot of television experience, has been working for the past few weeks on a T.V. pilot focused on local music scenes.
This past Thursday night, he interviewed me about Chicago music in the 90s for the show. In booking it, he asked that I pick the place for the interview. In a town known for its cool clubs and live music rooms, I chose Superdawg. Forget trying to make a musical statement; nothing beats a Whoopskidawg and a shake.
Superdawg has been a part of my life since childhood. These days, when I return from a long trip out of town, it’s one of the first places I pass (and usually stop at) on my way home from O’Hare. Throughout the years, I’ve enjoyed Superdawg’s burgers and dogs, enjoyed the carhop service in weather both good and miserable, and even bought a few souvenirs. I just never once bothered to acquaint myself with the restaurant’s history.
I learned a lot about Superdawg on Thursday from owner Maurie Berman, who opened up the joint in 1948. Remarkably, he’s still there, thanking carloads of visitors as they pull out of the lot. While I watched, a driver stopped her car to return the thanks. “We drove all the way here from St. Petersburg,” she said. That made my bun drop. Seriously…that’s a helluva trip. Maurie seemed unfazed.
Our carhop explained that she hears stories all the time about people traveling from faraway places just to take in Superdawg’s untouched-by-time, drive-in atmosphere, and to take pictures of the giant hot dogs on the roof. In case you were wondering, the giant dogs are the encased pork effigies of Maurie and his wife Florence (Flaurie).
I guess I always assumed that Superdawg couldn’t possibly be under the same ownership as it was since the day it started, over 60 years ago. And yet, there was Maurie, sitting across from me at one of the restaurant’s picnic tables. “Has anyone ever tried to buy Superdawg from you?” I asked. Maurie nodded his head and smiled. “Some things aren’t for sale.”