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Plant-Based Chicago Not Dogs To Open In San Diego's North Park

June 4, 2021

Moving into the 3,200 square-foot space that last housed The Modern Vegan in San Diego's North Park is Chicago Not Dogs, a wholly plant-based bar, restaurant and market set to open this summer.

Brian & Susan Gervase are native Chicagoans that have been operating a vegan hot dog stand at area farmers markets for the past 2 years. When the expansive space previously occupied by The Modern Vegan went up for lease earlier this year, the husband-and-wife duo decided to launch a completely plant-based restaurant with a market space for vegan vendors. 

"The concept for the restaurant is mainly an attempt to recreate our favorite type of food establishment, the Chicago-Style Hot Dog restaurant and satisfy our vegan lifestyle," explained Chicago Not Dogs founder Brian Gervase. "As Chicagoans for 40 years, we moved here in search of great weather as well as a strong vegan community. We have been struck by just how strong the vegan community is here and that prompted us 2 years ago to try a tent and see if San Diegans love a Chicago-style dog as much as we do. It's fun not only bringing a new dish to San Diego but to bring it vegan. During our COVID shut in, I started tinkering with my absolute favorite Chicago-style sandwich - the Italian Beef Sandwich. We created our house made seitan, deli sliced it razor thin and emulated a family broth recipe and we were in business! We get the authentic giardiniera directly from Chicago. Once we gave people an opportunity to try our Italian *beef* sandwich, we decided it was time to abandon the tent and open a brick and mortar operation." 

Chicago Not Dogs will offer a menu featuring Chicago-style "not dogs", an Italian *beef* sandwich, Italian sausage sandwich, fried chick’n sandwich and fresh cut fries, as well as seasonal specials like vegan bratwurst to celebrate Oktoberfest. The restaurant also plans to offer a Sunday brunch with a rotating menu. From the bar, there will be a list of beer, wine and soft drinks, possibly full liquor. The large dining room in the middle of the restaurant will be a 'ShowStore' for local vegan vendors. Dubbed " The Vegan Regional Goods" or "The VRG" (pronounced verge), this marketplace component was inspired by the many vendors at local farmer's markets that the couple has met along their journey. 

"We are calling this concept a 'ShowStore' since the vendors will be creating a self-service display that will allow a customer to perform a digital transaction with the vendor and pick up the goods live at The VRG," continued Gervase. "This way vendors do not need to be present. We will also be hosting community events, Bingo nights, etc in this space. Our vision is that The VRG becomes the central hub for all things vegan in San Diego and allows all the fantastic vegan products being produced to have a home together."

Chicago Not Dogs is anticipated to open as early as July at 4332 30th Street, Suite 3, in San Diego's North Park. For more information, visit chicagonotdogs.com.