RE: Gene & Jude's in Illinois
I've been going to Gene & Jude's for 45 years and still love 'em, though now I have to drive 35 miles one-way. The parking lot and line inside are filled with a cross-section of middle America, from children on their bicycles to adults on their motorcycles, from guys in suits to guys from the nearby factories, from classic cars to junkers. There's almost nobody pretentious or high-falutin', just plain neighborhood folks of all ages. Also, it attracts cops from at least six jurisdictions that I'm aware of.
The secret to their fries is twice cooking. As folks have said, they're fresh cut then dropped into the oil within minutes and lightly browned. Next the basket is lifted out of the oil and hung to cool for a few minutes. Then plunged back into the oil for final browning. This double-fried approach makes a huge difference in the taste and texture.
Using the skin-on Vienna dogs makes a difference too. The skins allow the dogs to be steamed and held for a while without getting water-logged and ballooning up like they would if they'd been boiled.
Gene & Jude's hours are 11am to 1am on weeknights and till 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. (Although, don't be ridiculous and walk in at 2 minutes to 2 and expect to get fed.) The person who said they were closed may have gone by during the two weeks in January that they close down every year.
While I was waiting in a long line one day, a typical occurrence, I heard an interesting story about Gene & Jude's. I don't know if it's true, but it sure makes a great story. Apparently, this hot dog stand had been in the city (Chicago) and the original owner lost it in a poker game. The winner, who hadn't been particularly interested in the hot dog business, moved it to the suburbs and made a ton of money. According to my informant, once the capital equipment is paid off, i.e., the three double fryers, three steam tables, two pop fountains, some industrial refrigerators and a cash register, the rest is just employee costs and profit. He shared that none of the equipment is really terribly expensive and it lasts forever.
The extremely simple menu also keeps the overhead costs down. Even the tamales are there because they can share steam table heat with the dogs and buns.
Anyone know where in Addison they're going to be setting up their new shop?