Josh’s Hot Dogs chosen to participate in Food Network event

The company was recently asked to participate in Food Network in Concert at Ravinia, being held September 20th. Josh’s will be one of only five hot dog stands in all of Chicago that are part of the event.| Jackie Pilossoph/For Sun-Times Media
The company was recently asked to participate in Food Network in Concert at Ravinia, being held September 20th. Josh’s will be one of only five hot dog stands in all of Chicago that are part of the event.| Jackie Pilossoph/For Sun-Times Media

NORTHBROOK—When asked where he grew up, Josh Kaplan answered Deerfield. But he then commented that he spent much of his childhood in his dad’s Vienna Beef truck.

“My dad was a distributor, also known as ‘jobber,’” said Kaplan. “Every morning we’d wake up at 5 a.m., go to Vienna Beef and pick up the products, and then deliver them to customers.”

The great memories and the love of the hot dog business led Kaplan to who he is today: the owner of his Northbrook hot dog restaurant, Josh’s Hot Dogs.

“When I was 12, I used to tell my dad, ‘I’m going to own one of these places one day,’” said Kaplan, a University of Illinois graduate who prior to opening Josh’s spent a decade working in a few different careers, including advertising sales, property management and real estate brokerage. “I waited for the right time, but all through college and up until I bought this place, I’d see places and say, ‘This would be a great location for a hot dog stand.’”

Josh’s Hot Dogs, which celebrated five years in business this summer, is located on Sanders Road, just south of Dundee. Kaplan said the space, which was the previous home of Ira’s for 25 years, was in the perfect location but in need of “a spark.”

“It seemed a little tired, and I felt like I was the perfect person to come in here and change the dynamic of the place,” he said. “I changed everything; the plumbing, electricity, lighting, and music. I also gutted the kitchen, bought all new furniture and booths, and put up the mural.”

Kaplan made lots of menu changes, as well. In addition to its hot dogs and polish sausage, Josh’s serves sandwiches, gyros, burgers, ribs, skirt steak, chicken, salads, fries, onion rings, chili and desserts.

With his desire to support local vendors, Kaplan gets his meats from Northbrook’s Elegance in Meats, his poultry from Glenview’s Harrison’s, and his hot dogs from none other than Vienna Beef.

“Josh doesn’t skimp on anything, and only uses top-of-the-line ingredients, from ketchup to mayonnaise to salad dressing and to his burgers and hot dogs,” said Ricky Fritzshall, who is Kaplan’s Vienna Beef distributor.

“I’ve really put my heart and soul into this,” said Kaplan, who lives in Northbrook with his wife, Kate, and their two children. “Although food is so important, it’s about so much more than that. It’s about community and making people happy. I want people to walk in here and feel like this is their house.”

Renee Fagman of Deerfield, along with her children are regular customers.

“There are so many hot dog places around Northbrook and this really is the best place,” she said. “My favorites are the hot dog, of course and the cheeseburger.”

Josh’s also has a huge catering business, servicing weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, corporate parties, school lunches and camps.

The company was recently asked to participate in Food Network in Concert at Ravinia, being held September 20th. Josh’s will be one of only five hot dog stands in all of Chicago that are part of the event.

“There are two important things that drive success in the hot dog business,” said Fritzshall. “You have to serve good food, but you have to have personality and that’s what Josh has. Josh is like the happy meal toy of the place.”

“We call him the Northbrook celebrity,” said Fagman. “Kids dress up as Josh for Halloween. Everyone loves him because he genuinely cares.”

Josh’s Hot Dogs

873 Sanders Road

(847) 272-1177

Website: joshshotdogs.com

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