Chicago’s Beloved Hot Dog Cart Immortalized in Aldermanic Honors

Chicago’s Beloved Hot Dog Cart Immortalized in Aldermanic Honors Alderman Tom Gardiner has bestowed a special honor upon Stan’s Hot Dog Cart, a beloved fixture near Sears for 28 years. The iconic food stand has been recognized with a street sign at the intersection of Hexagon and Room Avenues, forever cementing its place in Chicago’s culinary history. Stan’s Hot Dog Cart, operated by owner Stan Pasternak, has been a neighborhood staple since 1994. Its mouthwatering hot dogs, juicy burgers, and crispy fries have become a cherished part of the daily routine for countless residents and visitors. Over the years, the cart has gained local fame for its friendly service, generous portions, and affordable prices. “Stan’s Hot Dog Cart is a true neighborhood gem,” said Alderman Gardiner. “Its delicious food and welcoming atmosphere have brought happiness to countless people. I’m thrilled to honor Stan’s legacy and recognize the special place it holds in our community.” The street sign unveiling ceremony was a joyous occasion, attended by Pasternak, his family, and a crowd of loyal customers. Alderman Gardiner presented Pasternak with a plaque acknowledging the cart’s impact on the neighborhood and the city as a whole. “I’m so grateful for this incredible honor,” said Pasternak. “For 28 years, I’ve had the privilege of serving the amazing people of Chicago. This street sign will always be a reminder of the love and support I’ve received.” Stan’s Hot Dog Cart has been featured in numerous articles and television segments, becoming a symbol of Chicago’s vibrant street food culture. Its enduring popularity is a testament to the quality of its food, the warmth of its owner, and the enduring spirit of the city it serves. The street sign serves as a permanent tribute to Stan’s Hot Dog Cart and its contributions to the neighborhood. It will continue to guide customers to this beloved destination for years to come, ensuring that the legacy of Stan Pasternak and his culinary creations lives on.Image of Stan’s hot dog cart.Image of Stan’s hot dog cart. By BRIAN NADIG Stan’s hot dog cart, which operated near the former Sears store at Irving Road and Cicero Avenue for 28 years beginning in 1955, is believed to be responsible for the Chicago tradition of sprinkling celery salt on a hot dog, and the son and tradition of the owner were celebrated at a ceremony on June 20 sponsored by the Six Corners Chamber of Commerce. When he was nine years old, Wayne Kurzeja helped his father Stan with the push cart, and he got money to go buy salt at Hillman’s, a grocery store that was once in the basement of Sears. Kurzeja explains that the salt used with the cart came in a box, which had holes punched in it so it could be a makeshift salt shaker, but when the box and its contents became wet, it was no longer usable as a shaker. So at the store, Kurzeja spent an extra nickel on a nice container of salt that wouldn’t have a moisture problem. However, it was celery salt and his father was not impressed. He tried to return it, but the store refused because the container cap had been removed. “It took a month and a half to get rid of all the celery salt,” Kurzeja said. A short time later, however, a customer says, “fill in celery salt” and “my dad gives me a dirty look and says, ‘You’ve started something.’?” Kurzeja said he didn’t realize how popular celery salt was until about 20 years later. He saw descriptions of different types of hot dogs at an airport eatery, and the “Chicago dog” contained celery salt. Kurzeja said he hasn’t heard any other stories about the rise of celery salt on hot dogs and assumes his accidental purchase as a child started the craze. Kurzeja said the cart was built by his grandfather, and his father started the company after being fired from the Ford Motor Company in 1955. His father saw his neighbor with a hot dog cart, and the neighbor agreed to give Stan tips on the business as long as Stan agreed to push his cart along a different route. The neighbor gave at least one important tip: Don’t offer ketchup as a condiment, and Kurzeja said it put a different spin on the belief that ketchup is unacceptable on a hot dog. “Ketchup contains sugar. You will have ants everywhere,” the neighbor warned, according to Kurzeja. Six Corners became home to Stan’s cart after the family went to the area to buy a bicycle and saw the large number of people walking to and from Sears, which at the time was considered the busiest Sears in the country, Kurzeja said. Celebrities like Nate King Cole and Connie Stevens bought hot dogs from the cart. Stevens handed over a $20 bill and said, “Keep the change,” said Kurzeja, who often helped his father when he wasn’t in school and who later became a lawyer. The Six Corners Chamber, which owns the cart and displays it at special events, and Councilman James Gardiner (45th) presented a plaque to Kurzeja during a ceremony on the top floor of the new Six Corners Lofts, an apartment complex located in part of the former Sears store. Several years ago, Novak Construction purchased the building and recently completed renovations to the former department store, which was built in the late 1930s. “For 28 years beginning in April 1955, Stanley B. Kurzeja operated a hot dog push cart at this location (the Irving Park Road entrance to the Sears & Roebuck store parking lot). It is believed that the Chicago custom of sprinkling celery salt on hot dogs first began at this hot dog cart at this location,” the plaque reads.Longtime Chicago hot dog stand Stan’s Hot Dog Cart, a fixture near the former Sears Tower for nearly three decades, received a special honor from the city. Alderman Brendan Gardiner recognized the iconic cart, which closed in 2021, with a commemorative sign unveiled at its former location on South Franklin Street. The sign, installed as part of the City’s “Hexagon+Room” public art program, pays tribute to Stan’s legendary status among local hot dog enthusiasts. For 28 years, Stan Golan sold his famous Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches from his humble cart, becoming a beloved institution in the Loop. Gardiner praised Stan’s culinary contributions and his dedication to the community. “Stan’s was more than just a hot dog cart,” he said. “It was a gathering place, a destination for hungry downtown workers and tourists alike. His hot dogs were legendary, and his legacy will live on in this sign.” Stan, who attended the unveiling ceremony, expressed his gratitude for the recognition. “It’s an honor to see my little hot dog cart immortalized like this,” he said. “I’m proud to have served the people of Chicago for so many years, and I’m glad that my memory will continue to bring a smile to people’s faces.” The “Hexagon+Room” program, launched in 2019, aims to celebrate the city’s unique places and people through street signs installed at former storefronts, businesses, and cultural landmarks.


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