DOWNTOWN — Luke’s Italian Beef, a family-operated hot dog joint, has been inducted into the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame after 30 years of work, plus a year of waiting out the pandemic.
Luke’s was supposed to be inducted into the Hall of Fame April 1, 2020, but the pandemic delayed the honor. Owner Roseanna Gagliano quipped it was “one heck of an April Fool’s joke.”
But an induction ceremony was held Tuesday morning at the restaurant, 215 W. Jackson Blvd. Gagliano was presented with a plaque — bearing the inscription “2020,” serving as a reminder of the challenges during the past year.
The award recognizes the restaurant’s “longtime commitment to its Chicago customers and community,” as well as its record for loyally serving the classic Chicago hot dogs and Italian beef products from Vienna Beef, according to the sausage company.
“When you talk about Downtown Chicago, there’s sometimes a lot of turnover, there’s a lot of chain restaurants,” said Bob Schwartz, senior vice president of Vienna Beef. “Here is a mom-and-pop restaurant that has survived not only all those years — but they’ve created an image and an identity all their own, where people come in and they know their names, and people feel – it’s almost the ‘Cheers’ effect.”
The lunch crowd shuffled through just around 11 a.m., bringing everyone from union workers to a family visiting from Arizona to fill their stomachs with pizza, beef and fries. A regular shared a conversation with the cashier while ordering.
The pomp and circumstance of Tuesday’s induction aside, the restaurant was back to normal – to the delight of Gagliano.
She was elated about the induction, as well as seeing the seats of the dining area begin to fill with customers. Gagliano said it was “how it should be.”
“We’re excited about … a start of a new year with ending the pandemic and getting back into business and seeing our customers again,” Gagliano said.
Check out more photos from lunchtime at Luke’s:
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