Iconic Pilsen hot dog business forced to shut down over mural, alderman says

A hot dog stand that has operated in Pilsen since 1956 closed over the weekend, and according to the local alderman, the closure stems from a mural painted on the side of the building.

A mural on the side of Memo's Hot Dogs on 18th Street appears to show comedy duo Cheech and Chong enjoying a hot dog on the road.

"There's no advertisement. There's no name of the restaurant. It's just a mural next to the alley," said Byron Sigcho-Lopez of the 25th Ward. "This actually helps prevent tagging and graffiti and other issues."

But the city disagrees with Sigcho-Lopez, saying the mural violates Chicago Municipal Code because it constitutes an advertisement which needs to be licensed — that's something the 65-year-old restaurant has not paid for.


"They were basically forced to shut down because they were not able to renew their license unless they complied with this very stringent regulations that I don't think are reasonable."

In a statement, the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection said, "Memo's Hot Dogs located at 1447 W. 18th Street does not have a current business license. The establishment did not renew their Retail Food Establishment license which expired on April 15, 2022."

Lopez calls it "unacceptable" for the Pilsen community to lose a beloved establishment over the mural.

"After everything they've done and all the decades here, not to offer them a solution was disheartening," he said.

Lopez said they don't want to do away with the mural, but still hope to re-open and are scheduled for a hearing about ways to get their business license renewed in November.