BUCKTOWN — Iconic Chicago hot dog and sausage maker Vienna Beef is revamping its former factory space in Bucktown to once again house its corporate headquarters, a restaurant and more.
The company announced Tuesday work is underway on a $20 million redevelopment of its former factory space, 2501 N. Damen Ave., to become “Vienna Beef Plaza.” The complex will feature offices and the restaurant as well as a factory store and additional retail space for other companies.
The move comes three years after Vienna Beef closed its store and cafe in the building and moved its corporate offices to the West Loop. The company shifted production operations to a facility in Bridgeport in 2015.
The Bucktown site was then slated to become a Drive Shack driving range, a project which fell through during the pandemic, Vienna Beef vice president Tom McGlade said Tuesday.
Now, the hot dog maker is returning to a building it’s called home since the 1970s — with some significant changes.
“We will be gutting the entire inside,” McGlade said. “We’ll be keeping the outside, with the exception of putting a brand new roof on, and really starting from scratch with spaces that’ll be very unique to this part of Chicago.”
The restaurant will be similar to the one previously housed in the former factory, McGlade said. It will feature a full line of Vienna Beef products, available to take away or eat at the restaurant or a new outdoor space the company is building.
“We’ll have Chicago dogs, Maxwell Street polish, Italian beef, we’re going to do great burgers, fries, we make soup and chili, so there’ll be soup and chili,” McGlade said. “Other than that, just high-end fast food, Chicago products.”
The factory store will also sell bulk hot dogs and sausages, plus Vienna Beef merchandise and other products.
And while the walls of the new restaurant and factory store will be lined with Vienna Beef signs and other items, the location will not include an official company museum.
In 2018, Vienna Beef opened a pop-up museum at the former factory to celebrate its 125th anniversary. The exhibit featured historic photos and signs, an antique meat grinder and other items.
The restaurant in the rehabbed space will instead be “outfitted with memorabilia that encapsulates the company’s 130-year history as Chicago-born and Chicago-made,” according to a news release.
The restaurant is slated for a spring 2024 opening, McGlade said.
Around 50 Vienna Beef employees are expected to move into the offices by the end of the year. Vienna Beef is also converting the location’s former warehouse into retail space, which could begin to come online in early 2024.
The complex could accommodate three to five stores and big-box companies, McGlade said. The plaza will include more than 200 parking spaces.
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), whose ward includes the site, praised the redevelopment of the factory space.
“Our community is excited to see Vienna Beef reinvest in the neighborhood by adaptively reusing the original Vienna headquarters,” he said in a statement. “We are happy to see new jobs and economic development the plan will continue to
build on for Chicago.”
The existing Vienna Beef factory store in Bridgeport, 3847 S. Morgan St., will remain open.
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