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Random Wed May 14 2014
Fans of Hot Doug's have reacted in a variety of ways to the news that owner Doug Sohn is closing the beloved encased meats emporium on Oct. 3 of this year. Some have vowed to visit as many times as possible, others are buying t-shirts or simply sharing their personal stories about the shop or Doug. Todd Levy took the domain hotdogs.com and turned it into a countdown to the shop's closing time.
"I think there was a beer involved," said Levy when I spoke to him and his colleague Jason Schaeffer. They work for a company that manages a large collection of generic domain names, like hotdogs.com and ketchup.com, and also work on the physician portal MD.com. Many of the domains just host the generic placeholder pages you see all over the web, but they occasionally do something more interesting with them. "We wanted to do something fun with the [hotdogs.com] domain," Schaeffer said. "We thought a fun use for it would be to pay tribute to Hot Doug."
Though he now lives in New Jersey, Levy is originally from Chicago, and a fan of Hot Doug's. After learning of Sohn's plan to close the famed sausage superstore, Levy convinced his colleagues to put up the countdown clock by showing them news articles and photos of lines of people waiting to get in. The site went live and soon thereafter was spotted by food writer Colin Joliat, who tweeted about it. Since then, the site has gotten plenty of attention on social media, with over 700 Facebook shares and dozens of tweets by Tuesday night.
"It's exciting to see all the positive feedback," said Schaeffer. "Todd's been strutting around the office."
And what does Hot Doug himself think of the countdown, which reads 142 days and so many hours, minutes and seconds? "The first time I saw it, I thought, 'Oh my god, I'm not gonna make it that long!'" Sohn said. Even though the restaurant was officially closed when I called, the restaurant was full -- as it has been since the announcement was made. Although Hot Doug's closes at 4pm, Sohn's policy is to allow those in line at close to come in and order.
"Last Saturday, we went out and told people, 'From here, it's two hours, from here it's three.' And they still waited," he said.