On behalf of Vienna Beef, we are proud to recognize the accomplishments of Mark Reitman and his contribution to formalized instruction and training during the development of the Hot Dog University in 2006 and moving into the Vienna Beef corporate headquarters on Damen Avenue in Chicago in 2009. Mark’s vision, passion, and execution has led thousands of students to take the first important step towards becoming independent owners of a Hot Dog cart or stand by graduating from “Hot Dog U”, with the majority of the graduates going on to run successful Vienna Beef Hot Dog operations.
Mark always romanticized with the idea of owning his own business and being his own boss. As a young boy growing up in Chicago, his dream was to open a Hot Dog business. He sold his first hot dog at the age of 8 in 1955 at the soda fountain in his father’s drug store. Then at the age of 13 he started working at a Chicago food institution, Henry’s Hamburgers. While a student at Southern Illinois University, he worked in a commissary where he cooked Hot Dogs and hamburgers. After graduating, he became a schoolteacher but always had to have a second job to supplement his income. By this time Mark had moved from the Chicago area to become the first elementary school counselor in the Kenosha, Wisconsin Unified School District. But with the dream of owning his own business still burning, Mark and his wife Nina purchased a Hot Dog cart in 2003, selling hot dogs at special events and eventually, set up outside an outlet mall in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.
As Mark has said, “A life of service is the happiest life. I've served as a teacher, counselor, administrator, and salesperson. As the Professor of Hot Dogs, I finally discovered my calling in life. While vending hot dogs, customers were constantly asking if my business was a franchise, if there was a way they too could get involved in this exciting and fun business, so I decided to combine my experience of teaching, counseling, and retail sales experience and Hot Dog University was born in 2006.” Partnering in this endeavor with Vienna Beef, with whom he had branded for years, was a natural. Mark was raised in Chicago, and his first dreams of this business were all about his love for the Chicago Hot Dog, and Vienna Beef has been the home of the classic Chicago Hot Dog for well over a century and quarter. Along with the encouragement of Mark’s wife, Nina, he has made all his dreams become a reality. The Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame was created to honor those Hot Dog enterprises that have achieved longevity and developed into special iconic institutions. Out of thousands of Vienna Beef establishments over the years, we have recognized only a fraction since the award was inaugurated in 2006. We are extremely proud to welcome Mark Reitman and Hot Dog University into the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame.
The Vienna Beef family appreciates Mark and his years of dedication to Vienna Hot Dog University and the thousands of customers he brought to us. Congratulations on this significant accomplishment.