The Hot Dog Box is Opening a Full Restaurant in Portage Park

With ten times the space and a bigger menu, the beloved hot dog stand looks forward to feeding a new community.
The Hot Dog Box is Opening a Full Restaurant in Portage Park
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Hot Dog Box fans come in from all over — Oregon, Boston, Washington, D.C., Texas, Atlanta, Kentucky. But whether they’re from another state or a neighborhood down the block, they all have one thing in common: Serious love for the Bronzeville hot dog stand’s decadent gourmet dogs. And with multiple major media appearances under their belt — including a segment on the Today Show — Bobby Morelli, along with his 10-year-old daughter Brooklyn, are on their way to becoming household names.

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“Honestly, this is beyond my wildest dreams,” Morelli said. Now, thanks to Hot Dog Box’s success, it’s set to open a 2,000-square-foot dine-in restaurant this fall or by early 2022 at 4020 North Milwaukee Avenue in Portage Park — a big step up from the 200-square-foot shipping container out of which the Morelli family has been selling hot dogs for the past year. Folks are already excited.

“To me, Portage Park is a neighborhood that’s coming back — it’s a strong community,” Morelli said. “And we’ve received a huge outpouring of love and support from that area before we’ve even opened our doors.”

The new location will expand the Hot Dog Box brand in the size of both its footprint and its menu. While the new additions are still in the works, they will build upon the restaurant’s several hot dog varieties — options currently include hot dogs made from filet mignon, salmon, and turkey, along with a vegan sausage — with more toppings and signature items that will live alongside the “The Stand Style,” “Bronzeville Bourbon” and “What’s the Dill?” dogs the Bronzeville stand sells.

“We’re curating an exclusive menu,” Morelli said. “We want to be inclusive and have something for as many people as we possibly can.”

The new stand isn’t the only thing in the works for the Morelli family. Besides being a budding restaurateur, Bobby Morelli was a R&B and pop recording artist (his last album, Life on Replay, was released just before the pandemic hit). He’s now co-writing a song with Brooklyn titled “The Underdog,” inspired by the Hot Dog Box’s success and his own journey in music and business.

“The hot dog is the underdog of everybody’s menu. It gets relegated to kids,” Morelli explained. “You may feel like the underdog in corporate America, in music, in whatever you do. If you stay strong and true to who you and shine at whatever level you’re at, the underdog still wins.”

Keep up with Hot Dog Box on its Instagram account and its website. The hours at its Bronzeville stand are from noon to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Helen Floersh

Helen Floersh is a writer based in Los Angeles. She previously was a staff reporter at the San Fernando Valley Business Journal, where she covered retail, hospitality, health care and biotechnology.
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