After a six-year absence, Lee Yovanof is back in business Downtown, serving up the Windy City version of the frankfurter in the space below La Cucina Flegrea and next to Sienna on Graeme Street, also known as one of the shortest roadways in all of the City. Since opening his doors a few weeks ago, Lee says every day seems like a reunion. "So many of my old customers have rediscovered me," Lee says. "I was on Liberty Avenue for 19 years and built so many relationships with my customers," says Lee. "Now each day, another person comes back in and tells someone else that I'm back. It's such a good feeling."
The trip down memory lane started when Lee got the urge to sell his Chicago red hots again after helping his wife run a South Hills restaurant. "I really had the itch to get back," he admits. "I was looking for a new location in Downtown and saw an ad in the newspaper for this spot. It was perfect because it was already equipped for a restaurant and set to go. Though the address is different, much of the new Yovi's will be familiar to returning fans. The walls are still decorated with old-time photos of Chicago sports heroes, and a near life-size cutout of Michael Jordan basically greets customers at the door. But what really has regulars and newcomers alike making the trip to the new Yovi's is the dog.
What makes the Chicago dog different from a New York frank or even a Pittsburgh version? "The Chicago hot dog is a nice looking dog," replies Lee, a native of Macedonia. "You start off with an all-beef wiener on a poppy seed bun and top it all off with yellow mustard, sweet green relish, diced onions, tomato wedges, a crisp pickle spear and tiny squares of sport peppers. It's beautiful." Along with one of the most artistic dogs in town, Yovi's serves fresh-cut french fries, thin-slice Italian beef sandwiches, hot and Polish sausages and more.Adding a distinct new flavor to the Square, Lee says he's happy to add to the smorgasbord of dining options. "I think that the more variety the better. There's so much new life in Market Square these days. This is really a great place to be." And Yovi's — open Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. — is a great place enjoy on old favorite with a different twist.