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Luke’s Italian Beef Relishes Hall of Fame Recognition After A Year Of Anticipation

The award honors the Downtown restaurant, which has served Vienna Beef hot dogs for decades.

Roseanna Gagliano, owner of Luke's Italian Beef, hangs a plaque that honors the restaurant as a Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame member on June 22.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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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.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Bob Schwartz, senior vice president at Vienna Beef Ltd., presents a plaque honoring Luke’s Italian Beef as a Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame member during a ceremony on June 22.

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.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Hermsen family from Arizona dines at Luke’s Italian Beef as the Downtown restaurant was inducted into The Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame on June 22.

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:

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Chris Lotz enjoys lunch with friends at Luke’s Italian Beef as the Downtown restaurant was inducted into The Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame on June 22.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Customers wait in line at Luke’s Italian Beef.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A Chicago-style hot dog at Luke’s.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Chris Lotz and Marcel Bellanfonte enjoy lunch with a friend at Luke’s Italian Beef on June 22.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Customers wait in line at Luke’s Italian Beef.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Pablo Sanchez, a 28-year employee, holds up a calzone June 22.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The staff at Luke’s Italian Beef goes to work June 22.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Patrons watch the ceremony as Luke’s Italian Beef was inducted into The Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame on June 22.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A customer picks up their order at Luke’s Italian Beef.

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