Mount Prospect Trustee Paul Hoefert says the town has a love affair with hot dogs, reminding the audience at last week's board meeting, "Sammy Skobel made a profession out of selling hot dogs in this town for probably 40 years or more. He was an icon."
And the village board has opted to invest in continuing that tradition, providing a $25,000 facade improvement grant toward the more than $160,000 cost of opening a new hot dog business on Main Street.
Mount Prospect residents Marci and Will Lehnert purchased the property at 208 S. Main St. that once housed an automotive detailing business and are aiming to open a Chicago-style carryout and catering operation under the name Hubby's in the Dog House next month.
The couple are hardly neophytes, having built a hot dog catering business over the past nine years.
"We both had gone to college and had degrees and did the corporate thing for quite a while and decided along the way that that really wasn't what we wanted to do with our lives," Will Lehnert said.
They started with a mobile food cart 10 years ago, operating on weekends in Chicago's Oz Park and catering private events. That grew to four carts and up to 200 events per year.
After moving to Mount Prospect with their two daughters, they joked that the building they ended up buying "looks like a hot dog joint." Soon things turned serious, and now they are looking to establish a brick-and-mortar base for their operation.
Besides such staples as hot dogs, burgers and Italian beef, the restaurant will offer "haute dog" menu items, including a "chubby pug" with bacon, grilled onion and barbecue sauce, and a "Not" dog vegan variety. The Lehnerts also plan to take a food cart to such events as the downtown Cruise Nights.
"We think the vision of the petitioners is very much aligned with what we are trying to accomplish downtown in terms of creating vibrant new restaurants," said Village Manager Michael Cassady.