LINCOLN PARK — After neighbors complained about excessive noise outside Weiners Circle new back patio, its owner says the famed hotdog stand will no longer play amplified music outside — most of the time.
Owner Ari Levy sent an email to neighbors last week, promising to do “a better job of keeping the patio as quiet as possible.”
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 brought the rowdy atmosphere of the its front patio along Clark Street too close to their homes.
Neighbors also said 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.
In his email, Levy shared contact information for the business’s new community monitor and assured neighbors the Wieners Circle’s back patio would be quieter.
“With the exception of days when we pull a permit (in which case we will provide you with notice), we will not have live music or DJs, and will keep the speakers off that are outside under the awning,” Levy wrote.
Levy’s message came the same day a spokesperson for Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd) said the alderman told Wieners Circle owners they must follow the agreement with the city not to play live or recorded music on the outdoor patio at any time, and hire a community monitor to patrol, monitor noise and address loitering or littering.
Neighbors said Wednesday they hadn’t heard music from the business’ back patio since Levy’s message, but the parties have continued.
“They haven’t played music outside that we can hear, but this past Saturday, the Wieners Circle held a large, noisy gathering that seemed like a planned party with a lot of basketball,” one neighbor said.
The group of neighbors asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, like being mocked on the Wieners Circle’s infamous sign, which the company has used to show support for social justice causes, slam celebrities and tell jokes.
The neighbors responded to Levy’s email last week with additional requests, like removing all outdoor speakers and the basketball hoop, and stopping special events that allow for amplified sound outside.
“We appreciate wholeheartedly your commitment to keeping the patio as quiet as possible, and for designating ‘community monitors’ with contact information to be available in real time,” the neighbors wrote. “To further demonstrate your good-faith commitment to being a good neighbor, … we respectfully request that the following additional steps be taken ASAP.”
Neighbors said Wednesday Levy had not yet responded. He also did not return Block Club’s requests for comment.
Levy, son of prominent restaurateur Larry Levy, bought the Wieners Circle from its previous owners in 2015. He was also a supporter of Knudsen’s campaign to be elected after the alderman was appointed to the office last year.
Ari Levy donated $800 to Knudsen’s campaign in December, according to filings with the Illinois State Board of Elections. Knudsen has also held a campaign event at the hotdog stand.
Knudsen’s office declined to comment.
Some neighbors have been raising concerns about the Wieners Circle’s back patio since plans for it 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.
“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.”
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