LA GRANGE – Located behind Q-BBQ is owner Michael Lapidus’ latest diner venture with the Hot Dog and Burger Co. The restaurant recently reopened with a new look and with a new menu.
According to Lapidus, the change in decor and food came after listening to his customers.
“This was a clothing shop before we took it over,” said Lapidus of first opening. “We thought that the town could use a nice hot dog and burger place. When we first opened four years ago, we just took off.”
Though an initial success, their original menu was more limited. According to Lapidus, creating a more contemporary menu and wanting to make the idea of the diner being a classic hangout again meant a rebirth for the Hot Dog and Burger Co.
“We found that our customers’ tastes were changing,” he said Friday. “So, we wanted to offer more gourmet [options] while still offering classic items. Your kid can get a classic Chicago-style dog and you can get a stroganoff burger.”
For company COO Valentine Kopjo, the restructuring of the Hot Dog and Burger Co. started, almost literally, from the ground up.
“We started by installing a new floor,” said Kopjo. “Then, after the floor, we fixed the tables, and after the tables we just changed the whole menu.”
What has been changed and expanded are the walls of classic and hard-to-find sodas. According to Kopjo, the concept of having a total of 71 sodas such as Dad’s root beer, Cherrywine, Moxie and Crush, was to bring long-familiar flavors to customers.
“It was Michael’s idea,” said Kopjo. “We hoped the people would appreciate the nostalgia. People would be like, ‘My grandpa used to drink this.’ Or, ‘I haven’t seen this since I was a kid.’”
Kopjo said the Hot Dog and Burger Co. enjoys selling sodas that are locally produced. Such as a salted caramel root beer from Chicago and Filbert’s cherry soda from Michigan.
Currently, the Hot Dog and Burger Co. is gearing up for when the weather warms up and summer food become all the rage.
“Everyone in La Grange knows where we are,” said Lapidus. “People will line up outside when we open because they like supporting their local businesses.”
One longtime patron, Jonathan Howard of Chicago, got to drink a Green River soda at the restaurant on Friday. Howard said he typically grabs a double cheeseburger before going to work.
“I like what they did with the place,” said Howard. “I was one of their first original customers. The burgers are good, the hot dogs are great and they always remember my name and know what I like to order.”