Cafes and restaurants

Superdawg and the Super Couple Behind It: A Tribute to Flaurie Berman

Photo via Superdawg’s Facebook page.

If you’ve ever passed by Superdawg on Milwaukee at Devon and Nagle, you’ll have seen the gargantuan hot dog couple standing side by side on top. He, the Tarzan-suited strongman and she, the demure lady with the bow on her head—Maurie and Flaurie. They aren’t just mascots, though—they’re representations of the real-life power couple who began the restaurant that would go on to be known nationally and even internationally as one of the best, if not the best hot dogs in Chicago, and some would say, anywhere. Maurie and Florence Berman opened Superdawg’s doors all the way back in 1948, and successfully kept them open and flourishing, including a newer location in Wheeling, for more than five decades. Maurie died in 2015, but Flaurie continued to helm the Superdawg ship and make customers smile as she’s always done, with her family at her side. Unfortunately, Superdawg announced yesterday that at age 92, Flaurie had also passed away. It was sad news for anyone who’d ever encountered the couple, as there are plenty of tales of their generosity, kindness and cheerful nature in interacting with customers, even after all those years, so we wanted to take the time to look back on this dawg duo and smile. 

A photo of Maurie and Florence Berman, via the Superdawg FB page.

The story of the couple and the restaurant are feature-film worthy. Maurie and Flaurie attended Von Steuben High School in North Park, and Maurie served in the Army during World War II. When he came back, he married Flaurie, his high school sweetheart, and turned his sights toward being an accountant, attending Northwestern. Flaurie, a Northwestern grad herself, was teaching in the Chicago Public School system. Since that left summers open, the couple decided to open a hot dog stand just for the season. They did this for two years while Maurie studied, before realizing it was what they wanted to do permanently.  

At the time, many returning veterans were opening roadside hot dog stands, and the couple wanted their food to stand out, so they sought out and found a distinctive recipe to use. It’s that recipe that’s set them apart and stood the test of time—a secret “unique beef blend” instead of the ubiquitous and delicious Vienna Beef we’re used to seeking out in our hot dog stand searches. It’s juicy and fresh and served with a big slice of pickled green tomato instead of the garden variety reds, and it’s absolutely delicious. Superdawg’s food deserves attention, and it’s not even just the dogs—their smoky sweet Polish with beautifully caramelized onions, Whoopercheesie burgers and the crispy crinkle cut fries the dogs always sit on top of are just as well thought out and prepared. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed—Superdawg almost always garners a mention when the best hot dogs are discussed—whether on a citywide, national or even worldwide level. Superdawg’s gotten the attention of everyone from USA Today, National Geographic, Zagat and Fodor’s to the New York Times. Whenever I’m near either location, it’s a stop I consider a must, and Superdawg is still my favorite Chicago dog of all time, hands down.

One of the things that struck us most were the stories we read on Superdawg’s Facebook page immediately following the announcement of Flaurie’s death. The restaurant’s own tribute to her on their Facebook page was incredibly touching, making sure that people knew what made the restaurant successful: 

“For seventy years, Flaurie worked alongside and supported her husband and best friend, Maurie Berman as they built a business and a family. When you visit and see the winking Superdawgs greeting you from our roof, remember that it was never just Maurie. It has always been Maurie and Flaurie. It was an honor to be able to share her with Chicago.” 

Image via the Superdawg FB page.

But it wasn’t just the staff that shared that sentiment—an outpouring of stories flooded the Facebook comments on the announcement, talking about how even after all this time, Flaurie was the smiling face who greeted them at the restaurant, and how the Bermans always tried to give work to people who really needed a job. One person related the tale of a hot dog joint in Hawaii called Haute Dog that credited their inspiration for starting the restaurant to Superdawg.

That almost overfriendly “Hiya!” isn’t just a slogan —it’s a standing reminder of the warmth and joy both Maurie and Flaurie brought to everything they did. Superdawg will close both locations on Friday from 11am to 5pm so their staff can pay their respects, but if you’d like to pay yours, you can come in any time after that, wave at Maurie and Flaurie and greet your carhop with a hearty “Hiya!” 

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