Byron’s has served its last hot dog in Forest Park.
The famed Chicago hot dog place that’s had an outpost in Forest Park for the last five years closed on Sunday.
“We weren’t doing enough business to pay our bills,” Byron’s Hot Dogs owner Mike Payne told the Review on Monday night. “That’s really what it comes down to. The rent is so high. We tried to negotiate with the landlord and couldn’t get a decent amount of rent relief. The taxes are high there.”
Byron’s Hot Dogs was an original tenant at 7327 Madison, in the condominium building known as Madison Commons. Byron’s had opened there in July 2007.
The company itself got mention in the 1983 book Hot Dog Chicago. Last year, its Forest Park location was pictured in Hot Dog: A Global History, the “tube steak” retrospective by Bruce Kraig, a food historian who lives in Oak Park.
“The hot dogs were great, and I’m a hot dog connoisseur,” Laurie Kokenes, director of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and Development, told the Review.
Kokenes says she and her colleague Kathleen Hanrahan would frequently head there for lunch.
“We loved Byron’s, especially the onion straws,” Kokenes said. “He had very good food,” she said, referring to Payne, whom Kokenes calls an active and involved business owner.
“He immediately got involved in the community and the chamber,” Kokenes said of Payne. “We’re going to miss him and wish him well.”
Payne said that he did everything he could to make the location work, even though visibility and parking were concerns.
“We tried to do everything we could to advertise,” Payne said. “We spent thousands of dollars advertising. We even got a sidewalk seating café permission from the village and we put umbrellas out there trying to catch people’s attention so they could look and see that we’re there. We were just never able to make it there.”
Payne says he had a five-year lease with an option at three years. According to Payne, his landlord, Taxman Corp., hasn’t been cooperative.
“We had someone lined up to buy it and go in and continue operating right away and she just wouldn’t deal with them,” Payne said referring to Stacy Taxman. “I’m not sure what her issues were.”
Stacy Taxman, who handled Forest Park for the Skokie-based Taxman Corporation and is the daughter of Taxman Corp. founder, Sy Taxman, no longer works for her father’s company.
“She just left to pursue other opportunities,” said Taxman Corp.’s Margie Georgopulous, who said Monday was her first day of handling Stacy Taxman’s accounts.
Georgopulous said that she didn’t know what business might replace Byron’s.
“I have no information and cannot comment,” Georgopulous said.