A graduate of the culinary program at Kendall College, Doug Sohn has held at least 4 or 5 jobs in the food industry. Most notably, he was a vendor at both Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park in the 1980s. He cooked in restaurants, catering companies and corporate dining facilities before becoming a cookbook editor in the latter part of the 20th century. One day a friend of his ate a bad hot dog, resulting in the opening of Hot Doug’s, the Sausage Superstore, in Chicago in 2001. It closed in 2014. It was kinda famous in between.
He now oversees the Hot Doug’s concession stand in the bleachers at Wrigley Field and feels personally responsible for the Cubs’ recent success.
1. What’s been keeping you up at night?
Old age. Also, with all that’s been going on in this country since last November, it’s really hard to boil it down to just a small handful of issues. But, I don’t have the capacity to be angry on all fronts so I have to narrow it down for my own survival.
On that note, there are two issues that are keeping me up at night. 1) this seemingly popular attack on history, science and education, and 2) after decades of progress, the current utter disregard for the environment – in particular, clean water.
Issue 1 is maddening on many obvious levels, but Issue 2 seems so completely and universally incomprehensible. What is the rationale for reviving the unchecked dumping of toxic chemicals into our drinking water – purely for the sake of profits and convenience?
2. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen or heard lately?
The Sleaford Mods. They are an English electronic punk duo that I only learned about this past year and was fortunate to see them live at Metro in Chicago in April. I consider myself incredibly blessed that I was in high school, the most formative of musical years, in the late 1970s. So, I got to see the Clash and the Buzzcocks and the Ramones and Elvis Costello and . . . when they were just starting. The Sleaford Mods rekindled that sense of excitement, optimism, energy and exuberance that I felt in 1977.
3. What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?
A second book (Hot Doug’s The Book was the first one) that is more focused on what I learned as a small business owner and will, I hope, be more useful to other entrepreneurs.
4. If you could add anyone, alive or dead to your team, who would it be?
Bill Veeck, the former owner of the Chicago White Sox. Two of his autobiographies, Veeck as in Wreck and The Hustler’s Handbook, were incredibly influential on my approach to both business and life (not necessarily in that order). He did what he did for love and did not let money be the sole motivation. He also enjoyed thumbing his nose at authority. And he truly loved baseball.
5. When the movie of your life is made*, what will it be called?
I don’t know the title, but I hope it will be subtitled “The Citizen Kane of movies about Doug Sohn.”
*Editor’s note: There’s already a movie about Hot Doug’s, and it’s really great: