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SUPERDAWG Laura Berman Ustick, general manager of Superdawg’s Wheeling location at 333 S. Milwaukee Ave., represents the third generation of the Berman family to be involved in management of the 68-year-old business that started in Chicago’s Norwood Park neighborhood in 1948. Maurie (recently deceased) and Flaurie (now 90) Berman made a name for themselves with their original hot dog drive-in restaurant, complete

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with dancing hot dogs on the roof, at 6363 N. Milwaukee Ave. Over the years their son, Scott, daughter, Lisa, and sonin-law, Don Drucker, also became involved and they all work together running both locations. Scott’s daughter, Laura, grew up in the business, too, first working as a carhop at the age of 15. After college, she went to work for a large restaurant chain in Washington, D.C., while she decided whether the restaurant business was what she wanted. By 2008 she had made her decision and returned to Chicago to find her place in the Superdawg business. That was also when plans for a second, much larger, restaurant materialized, and the expectation was that Laura would run it. There was never any question where the new restaurant would be built. Back in 1982, Maurie had bought that Wheeling parcel between the Des Plaines River and Milwaukee Avenue, anticipating that it would be a great place for a restaurant. For many years they used the existing building on the site as a warehouse, Laura recalled. “Our family may move slowly,” she quipped, “but we finally pulled the trigger and opened the new place in January 2010. It is three times larger than the original one with taller dancing hot dogs on the roof, but it is also a drive-in that has a picnic area and it offers the same delicious food and friendly family atmosphere.” Superdawg hot dogs are specially made for them of 100 percent beef. They are smokier, larger and more flavorful than any competitor’s hot dog, Laura said, and they come with a unique grouping of Chicago-style toppings: mustard, onion, relish, pickle, tangy and slightly hot sport peppers and pickled green tomatoes. Laura admitted that getting customers and long-time staff members (who knew her as a teenager) to recognize her as the boss and a successful businessperson was a bit of a hurdle, but she has succeeded and her staff of 25 works well with her now in a team atmosphere. Five members of the Berman family are currently involved in the Superdawg business and family dinners often transform themselves into business meetings, but Laura said she enjoys working in the family business because everyone is totally invested in the restaurant and really cares. “We aren’t just a bunch of random strangers working in a restaurant together,” she said.

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2016 Community Guide & Business Directory

8/9/2016 1:35:48 PM


Wheeling IL Chamber Guide