John and Linda Keresi plan to introduce a Chicago-style hot dog when they open their new business on West Road.
By John Robert
When Sal’s Chicago Classic opens for business on West Road, owners John and Linda Keresi both 35, want visitors to be able to experience Chicago’s famous hot dog flavor without having to travel 283 miles.
The restaurant has been a dream of Keresi’s for years, planted by visits the pair made to the Windy City to visit Linda’s family.
“What we’re doing is recreating our favorite Chicago-style hot dog stand, which isn’t consistent with how we do them here (in the Detroit area),” John explained. “We’ve been going there to visit family for years, and we’ve got our favorite places to go for hot dogs.” With a laugh, he explains that this won’t be a place for chili dogs, the staple topping in the area.
In fact, the name Sal’s comes from one of John’s good friends, a Chicago native and relative of Linda’s who first showed the couple what the city offered in hot dogs.
Now, with this dream so close to being realized, Keresi is excited to share the authentic Chicago taste with everyone.
The Chicago hot dog is notable for its toppings (mustard, onion, relish, and sport pepper), as well as its poppy-seed bun (though plain buns will be available). But one component that is rare to find locally is the Vienna beef.
“They are the big name in Chicago,” he said. “It’s premium beef, and a lot of people would say that without the Vienna beef, it’s not a Chicago hot dog.”
Keresi said they visited the factory together before deciding they would definitely use it, and the tour confirmed their belief that it was the only way to go.
Bringing these flavors together will go a long way toward making Sal’s Chicago Classic a destination eatery, but the service and experience will be equally important in achieving that goal.
“This is going to be a grab-and-go, quick type of place,” Keresi said, juxtaposing it against the typical sit-down experience of local coney restaurants. There will be counters and a few tables for patrons who want to stick around, but the emphasis remains on imitating a hot dog stand, where buying food is just a stop along the way to something else.
The couple, Trenton residents who moved from Lincoln Park for the community, also own Downriver Rental Solutions on West Road, which, according to Linda, “acts as a middleman between prospective tenants and landlords.”
John has worked with Zanglin & Associates Real Estate for about a decade, and having seen the economic turnaround firsthand, was ecstatic when he saw the building available at 2330 West.
“When I saw the chance to be among this glass-front strip,” he said about the buildings near the corner of West and Edsel, “I thought it was a great opportunity. Downriver is dying for something new and different, and this could be it.”
The inviting and open front of the restaurant is a theme carried within it. A long counter, where orders will be placed and picked up, runs parallel to an open kitchen space where customers will be able to see everything that goes into making their meal.
“Meal” because, besides the Chicago Classic and the varieties of polish sausage that will be offered, the restaurant also will offer fresh-cut fries to top your dog, along with drinks. Keresi said he is expecting a hot dog and fries meal to cost $2.49, a bargain compared to many other lunch options.
It looks to be an ideal lunch spot, besides a good place to refresh oneself if out for a walk or shopping in the area.
When the doors will open remains not quite concrete: Keresi hopes it is “a few weeks” from the time this issue hits the stands on Aug. 1. Once open, though also not definite, he plans for the hours of operation to run from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, with later hours on Fridays and Saturdays.
In the future, once the business establishes its home location, Keresi looks forward to developing the mobile aspect of the business, namely in the form of hot dog carts that are part of the landscape in most other major Midwestern cities.