- The Wieners Circle
The Wieners Circle is a hot-dog stand in
Chicago, Illinois. It is famous for two things: (1) its signature, Chicago-style hot dogs, hamburgers and cheese fries, and (2) the mutual verbal abuse between the patrons and the customers during the late-weekend hours. [Shimo, Alexandra ( 2008-02-25), "BURGERS 'N BIGOTS". "Maclean's". 121 (7):55] On the weekends, the establishment stays open as late as 5:00 AM, drawing many drunken customers who have arrived from bars and clubs."Pandora's Box". "This American Life". 26 April 2007. No. 6, season 1]
The establishment is known for its char-grilled food, especially its hot dogs and hamburgers (commonly called char
Sometime in the early 1990s (circa 1992), one of the proprietors either Larry Gold or Barry Nemrow called a drunk and distracted customer an "asshole" in order to get his attention. This set-off the late-night abuse culture of the restaurant. The atmosphere can range from playful to hostile. The language used by both the staff and customers during these hours in notoriously foul and aggressive, and, especially among the customers, is sometimes racist in nature. As the wait-staff is largely African-American and the clientele middle-class to wealthy white, the more racist epithets have led to the rare physical altercation. Customers commonly request a "chocolate milkshake," or for one of the female African-American employees to lift her shirt and shake her breasts.
The nightly tips are very high, and people have worked there for ten years or more. "Poochie" is one of the more famous employees, and is featured on the showtime program, "This American Life."
The restaurant was featured in a 2007 episode of the
Showtimeprogram " This American Life". The producer, Jane Feltes, used a local Chicago hip-hop artist's music to avoid paying $30,000 in royalties, as the employees were singing "Shout" by Tears for Fearstowards the end of the broadcast. [Martens, Todd ( 2007-03-24), "6 QUESTIONS with JANE FELTES". "Billboard". 119 (12):14]
The restaurant is commonly lauded for the quality of the food in Chicago travel guides, though its aggressive customer service is near universally mentioned. [Blackwell, Elizabeth Canning (2004) "Frommer's Irreverent Guide to Chicago" p. 55]
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