LINCOLN PARK — Neighbors of the Wieners Circle say Lincoln Park’s famed hotdog stand has failed to follow through on promises made to the community when opening its new back patio.
The Wieners Circle, 2622 N. Clark St., opened the backyard patio in late 2021, expanding the stand’s capacity by 100 people while adding a back bar, more bathrooms and a basketball hoop.
But neighbors in the nearby Wrightwood Commons building, 630 W. Wrightwood Ave., said the expansion has led to excessive noise from the stand’s outdoor speakers and increased customer base.
Additionally, the Wieners Circle hasn’t hired a community monitor in charge of patrolling the area to address and abate noise, loitering and littering — something the business agreed to do before opening, neighbors said.
“They’re just flagrantly violating the terms of the approval and ignoring us,” said one neighbor. “They promised no music, keeping it low-key and having a community monitor, but they haven’t followed that.”
Neighbors asked to remain anonymous out of fear of being mocked on the Wieners Circle’s infamous sign, which the company has used to show support for social justice causes and slam celebrities, or other retaliation. The sign currently reads, “STFU About Chicago” in response to critics of the city like Fox News, which recently ran a segment about the mayoral election that was filmed in Naperville.
Ari Levy, owner of the Wieners Circle, did not return a request for comment.
One neighbor said he recently called the Wieners Circle to ask them to turn their music down on the patio and was told, “F–k you, motherf–ker.”
“It’s in the Wieners Circle spirit of drunken rowdiness, which is fine on the Clark Street side, but not against our homes,” the neighbor said.
Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd) convened neighbors and representatives from the Wieners Circle Aug. 2 for a community meeting to begin addressing these concerns, said Eli Stone, a spokesperson for Knudsen.
At the meeting, the Wieners Circle agreed to hiring a community monitor and establishing a separate community phone line neighbors could use to report loud noise and other disturbances, Stone said.
Some neighbors raised concerns about the Wieners Circle’s plans for a patio when they were presented during a 2021 community meeting when the business was requesting liquor and outdoor patio licenses.
The neighbors said they worried the introduction of alcohol, along with the restaurant’s patio, would create too much noise and bring the “late-night, rowdy mentality that the Wieners Circle is known for” too close to their homes.
Levy said at the time the Wieners Circle was committed to “changing the narrative of the brand” and making sure the new patio wouldn’t be disruptive.
“We’re going to make various videos and have a corresponding commercial to show what the Wieners Circle 2.0 is, and the goal is to retrain the patrons that the back [of the restaurant] is not the same as the front.”
Brian Haines, operations manager for the hotdog stand, said during that meeting the business would hire community monitors to act as security personnel who patrol the patios, picking up garbage and enforcing any noise restrictions.
These reassurances were solidified in the Wieners Circle’s Plan of Operation, an agreement between the city and some businesses — usually liquor establishments — that sets up rules and expectations the business must follow.
The Wieners Circle’s plan of operation prohibits live or recorded music playing on the outdoor patio at any time and mandates the business hire a community monitor tasked with patrolling the premises, monitoring noise levels and addressing loitering or littering.
“I feel that they told us what we wanted to hear, but now that they’ve got the license, all bets are off,” one neighbor said.
Knudsen told the Wieners Circle it must follow the plan of operation’s rules around amplified noise, Stone said. The Wieners Circle has speakers underneath an awning overlooking the back patio.
“The Wieners Circle is a vital anchor in our community — and has been for years,” Stone said. “It’s value to the Clark Street Corridor and our whole community is immense. We are looking forward to moving forward and ensuring the Wieners Circle and neighbors are on the same page.”
Representatives from the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection did not return a request for comment.
Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: