Harry the Hot Dog Man Dies at 103, Still Working

Photo: courtesy Vienna Beef

The Sun-Times’ Neil Steinberg has a lovely obituary for Harry Heftman, the owner of Harry’s Hot Dogs, a downtown hot dog stand in the Showmen’s League building which he operated for six decades until closing in 2009— when he was 100. At the time, he retired… for two weeks before going to work at East of Eden’s in Skokie as a greeter. A Hungarian immigrant— he was 12 before he met his father, who had moved to Chicago to earn money to bring the rest of the family over— Heftman opened the Little Snack Shop in the building owned by the guild of circus and carnival workers in 1954 (according to Steinberg, though other sources say 1946), changed its name to Harry’s in the 1980’s, and had to close when the building at Randolph and Franklin was demolished in 2009; the space is now a park in front of a high-rise. Peter Spyropolous, who owns East of Eden’s, remembers him to Steinberg:

“Oh, he was a good man,” said Spyropoulos. “Nobody can replace Harry. They don’t make them like him any more. Positive attitude. Belief in work. People like that don’t exist any more. He loved life, and he loved people. He was full of life until the last minute. Part of our life is missing.”


Harry the Hot Dog Man Dies at 103, Still Working