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After honing their restaurant skills at Ashland Gyros from 1977 into the 90’s, Robert and Miriam Sarantopulos opened Markella’s Gyros in Oak Forest in 1994. Named after their daughter, Markella’s has become an iconic neighborhood favorite. Voted as having the best burger in the area; and known for their Vienna Beef hot dogs, Ditka “monster” polish sausages, and, of course, their gyros; it’s easy to understand how people keep coming back.
As Miriam points out, “We care about all of our customers and make them feel welcome.” They are inspirational with that recipe for success; serving great food, caring for their customers and being an active part of the community. Markella’s helps sponsor Down in the Southland, which supports Down Syndrome children events. In addition, they are active with Oak Forest Cheerleading, VFW Ladies Auxiliary and other community service projects. Robert and Miriam have been dedicated to their restaurant and community from the very beginning and those values have been passed down to their daughter, Markella, who works and manages alongside them.
These are some of the reasons why Vienna Beef feels so strongly about acknowledging these deserving foodservice businesses. Therefore, it is with great pride that we thank and welcome Markella’s Gyros into the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame. From all of us at Vienna, we wish Robert, Miriam and Markella much continued success.
For over six decades, a small hot dog stand with old umbrellaed picnic tables outside has been a stalwart member of the Ashland Avenue landscape feeding several generations of regular customers, neighbors and passers by.
Mervyn Dukatte along with original partner Donald Marsalle started the Donald Duk’s Red Hots back in 1954. By ’57, they had four locations with three more on the way when Walt Disney Productions from California filed a trademark law suit against Donald and Duk. Eager to just get on with their business, Dukatte and Marsalle decided to shorten the name to Duk’s Red Hots. Sixty years later the flagship stand on Ashland remains today; and Vienna® Beef has chosen to pay homage to their loyalty and perseverance by inducting Duk’s Red Hots into the Vienna® Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame.
With manager, Carol Chavez running the show for the past ten years, Duk’s has continued to provide Vienna® Beef hot dogs, polish sausage, burgers and pickles; complimenting other menu creations and sandwiches to their large north side customer base. Carol and Duk’s have been involved in the Humble Heart program of feeding the homeless; while Merv has had continuous involvement with animal protection and sheltering programs.
Duk’s has quietly been one of Chicago’s ‘gold nugget’ great old hot dog stands doing their thing for over sixty three years and counting. It is with great admiration and pride that all of us at Vienna® say congratulations to Merv and Carol, and send best wishes for much continued success.
On October 6th, 1991, Alex and Wendy Villarreal opened “an old school hot dog joint.” After all, they met in high school working at a local Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. Cozzi Corner opened and a year later they were married. For the past quarter of a century they have had good times, four kids, and are now celebrating a 25th anniversary with each other while providing great food and conversation with their customers in Downers Grove.
Customers love “their Vienna® Beef hotdogs, fries, and Green River,” in addition to their other menu favorites. Wendy even keeps in contact with her very first employee. They have a cruise night car show on Tuesday evenings and support many local charities and fundraisers. Wendy and Alex’s two sons, AJ and Zach work at Cozzi Corner, with the younger Jack and Katie soon to be added to the working team.
We are proud to support our CEO Jim Bodman on his past success and future endeavors here at Vienna Beef. He started working at Vienna in warehouse almost 50 years ago and still believes that there should be no ketchup on a true Chicago Style Hot Dog. When asked to define a Chicago Hot Dog in one word he said “memories,” which is what we all hold close to our hearts here as employees. Every true Chicagoan has a memory or two of eating a Chicago Style Dog with their family and friends. We would like to congratulate J.B. on this great article and look forward to the adventures that lie ahead of us here at this company.
Posted in the business section of Sunday’s Chicago Tribune (August 28, 2016). Check out the link below for the full story! —
Sports and hot dogs have always been better together. It’s truly special to find a man like Mike Distefano who embraces both of the aspects of his American Dream with a Midwestern twist. He is the reason why The Dugout opened its doors in 1984. With Mike’s flair for sports, particularly his love for hockey, the place itself is homage to his passion and his hometown. He has created a “Cheers” effect in his restaurant, knowing his customers personally and their specific orders. Sometimes choosing between some of his award-winning menu items can be difficult. Many people have their own favorites like critic Pat Bruno’s favorite the pepper & egg sandwich. Any true food fan would have a tough time making up their mind. Mike was also a forerunner to Vienna Beef’s “Cheli’s Chili,” a recipe of the former NHL superstar, Chris Chelios. Helping local needs and charities has also been a large part of Mike’s business DNA. Mike juggles his time between the restaurant, coaching youth hockey, and working as an NHL official. Because of a great staff, including his longtime manager of 30 years Dawn Schmitz, Mike makes it look easy. Now it’s Vienna’s turn to thank and congratulate Mike Distefano and his amazing staff for all of their hard work and dedication. We proudly welcome The Dugout into the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame. From all of us at Vienna, we say congratulations and offer best wishes for much continued success.
For nearly a quarter of a century, the Original Joey’s Place has been a part of the Charleston and Eastern Illinois University community. Mark Grant has developed a winning menu with Vienna Beef hot dogs and Polish sausages, great burgers with homemade buns, and an awesome variety ofdeli, beef, and Philly steak sandwiches to name a few. But it all began more than a decade before, when Mark’s mom, Winola, left the farm to begin working for a newer restaurant start up called Jimmy Johns. Young Mark worked there, as well and it inspired him to create his own Foodservice niche. Winola and Mark bought Joey’s which seemed to need a complete makeover, and the Grant’s were just the family for the task. They didn’t even have Vienna hot dogs early on; but that soon changed and as Mark remembers,”so did the business.”
The community has been behind Mark and Winola, who opens the restaurant each and every morning. These are special people who have been on a mission to be the best at what they do. From business leaders to longtime residents to thousands of college students over the years; folks from all over the region keep coming back to Joey’s. Even national football celebs from the area, like Tony Romo and Sean Payton have found their way to Joey’s Place.Among other accolades, Joey’s has been voted best hot dog and fastest delivery on campus. Mark has also answered the call and need for community and charity with many fundraisers.
Now it’s Vienna Beef’s turn to acknowledge and thank Mark, Winola, and the rest of the family and staff; and welcome Original Joey’s Place into the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame. From all of us at Vienna, we say congratulations and best wishes for much continued success in the future.