Saturday, July 16, 2011

Gene and Jude's

While writing my last post on our recent Chicago visit, I got to thinking about the memories I have had…about a hot dog stand. :) But not just any Chicago hot dog stand. Gene and Jude's.

Gene and Jude’s is an iconic hot dog restaurant dive in River Grove, IL that opened in 1946 and is a spot that my mom and her siblings frequented when they were in high school. (I know the sign says Gene's and Jude's but we have always called in 'Gene' and Jude's.)

I am not exactly sure when my first Gene and Jude’s hot dog was, but I do know that some of my earliest memories of visiting my Grandma and Grandpa included this tradition.

Our family would make the 6 hour car drive and would usually arrive at my grandparent’s house well past the dinner hour. After visiting for a little bit my Grandpa would sneak out and bring back some Gene and Jude’s hot dogs loaded into brown paper sacks. This was a tradition every time we went into Chicago and such a sweet memory. When I was real little, my sister and I would split one of these french fry loaded hot dogs.

But to really truly experience Gene and Jude’s it is best to load everyone in the car (or cars if there were many families going) and make the drive out there, wait in line and then to eat in the parking lot.


It will be guaranteed that any time day or night the parking lot will be full and there will be a long line often times right out the door.


The menu is limited: hot dogs and tamales and soda. But really, why mess with perfection? :)


When we finally get to the front of the line we place our order of hot dogs with everything but peppers.


One of the guys behind the counter grabs this big wood tray that holds up to ten dogs and starts making our order.

Bun, hot dog, mustard, onion, relish, and fresh cut fries. Mmmm! (And a word to the wise here, don't even think of asking for ketchup. :)


After paying a ridiculously little amount of money, you can choose to stand at the long counter facing the parking lot or you can do what we always do and take your bag of greasy goodness and go eat out in the parking lot. This is always fun especially on a summer evening with car radios blaring.

(photo of Drew from summer 2005)

(photo of my Father-in-law, Tyler, Drew, Jake and my Dad from 2005)

The love for Gene and Jude’s seems to be being past down from generation to generation, too. My mom started going to this hot dog spot in high school, I grew up eating these, and my kids love them too! In fact, it is one of the first things (and last) they want to do when we get into town. It is good to start them young. :)

(photo of Jake and Tyler from 1997)

(photo of Jake, Tyler and Drew from 2004)

It is hard to believe that I devoted an entire post to hot dogs, but that is how good Gene and Jude’s is! And what says maybe even more, is that I don’t even really like hot dogs! :)


There are a few funny stories that I can remember from over the years about this spot.
Story 1: One time, years ago, when we were placing our order the guy behind the counter said; “Woe, the mind can only hold so much!” We thought this was funny because if you look at the menu there are only a couple of things on it- not too confusing. :) This became a popular saying in our family over the years.

Story 2: Our whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins…) love Gene and Jude’s so much we have been known to bring boxes filled with hot dogs to reunions, hotel lobbies and even funerals. :)

Story 3: Another time, when I was in high school, we had gone to Gene and Jude’s with my Aunt and Uncle and cousins, and we had brought our food out to the parking lot to eat. Another car had some loud hip hop/rap music blaring through though the parking lot so my dad turned up his radio to blare some music. His classical music mixing in with the hip hop/rap made us all laugh and has been an often repeated story over the years.

Story 4: In September of 2008, the river flooded and left Gene and Jude's under water. The jokes were that the place could use a good cleaning, this was the only time they changed the fry oil, and they would now have to boil the hot dogs. :)

(I am not sure where this picture originally came from, but it circulated around via email right after the flood.)


So the moral of this story is: if you ever find yourself in the Chicago area and you are craving a really good hot dog, you really ought to make a stop at Gene and Jude's! :)

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