**Reposting this on Sunday in case you don’t get a chance to make it into Church today. Teddy’s fans and loved ones have spoken. Thanks for all the submissions. Go see his dad John today at Fat Johnnies to pay your respects. He’s still slinging dogs 7242 S. Western.**
Sad story out of the South Side. Teddy Pawlikowski, son of American Hero John Pawlikowski has passed away. The 43 year-old will be greatly missed by the tens of thousands of Chicagoans who regularly enjoyed his family’s hot dogs.
For the uninitiated, Fat Johnnies is a literal hot dog shack located at 72nd and Western in Chicago’s Marquette Park neighborhood on the South Side. It’s extremely popular with the St. Rita crowd and widely recognized as not just a top dog in Chicago but a top dog across America.
Teddy has been a staple at Fat Johnnies since hanging in his dad’s balls. It’s in his blood. 3 years ago he was asked about a career outside of dogs:
“It’s a family business,” he said. “I’ve been working this place for 25 years. I went to college, but this is all I ever wanted to do.”
There’s something bad ass about going to college just to participate in The System and then being like haha fuck you guys I’m slinging dogs with my old man. A lot of people spend a lot of time and money trying to go to college. Teddy proved you don’t have to mindlessly enter spreadsheet data or blow 200 cold calls a day to put your education to use. We call that following your passion and there’s no judgment if it involves a good dog.
… the only addition being a Mighty Dog – a tamale sliced in half, with a hot dog, topped with chili and standard Chicago-style toppings. “That’s new. That just happened 15 years ago.”
For real that gives me the feels. When you’re talking to someone who defines New as happening within the last 2 decades, you just might be in Chicago. It honestly sucks that we lost Teddy so soon. Here’s one more tear-jerking quote to drive home just how magnificent and rare guys like Teddy really are:
I want to make every one perfectly. If they want extra cucumber, extra celery salt, extra onions, whatever, just make sure you do it exactly right. So I consider myself a hot dog concierge. You get your hot dog exactly the way you want. If you don’t like it, I’ll make you another one, you know?
My dad had that rule, if you don’t like it, we’ll make you another one – no questions. The customer’s always right. We pride ourselves on making sure everybody’s happy.
Every single thing that’s New these days sucks compared to Fat Johnnies. Everything.
They just don’t make people like Teddy Pawlikowski any more and that’s a goddamn shame. If you have a Teddy story or want to drop a note for this blog, email me firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be updating this throughout the night with whatever you guys want to share.
Teddy the last true cowboy of the Southside and master cook to his family hot dog stand past away early this morning. Teddy was more of a Southside tradition than human being. Teddy often catered block parties, graduation parties, and every other events you can think of. I’m not making this up, you needed a case of cold ones for him at every event he catered bc he refused to drink anything else. Often teddy would also close the parties bc he truly was a fun guy. He will be missed.
I’ve had at least 1,000 dogs from Teddy’s at Fat Johnnies since freshman year of Rita over 15 years ago. Each one is made with an alarming amount of attention to detail. More importantly, Teddy made his dogs with LOVE. I’ll never forget about 6 years ago I was visiting my little cousin at Eastern and Teddy showed up to an after hours party at 3 in the morning. It was so random. We boiled hot dogs in the kitchen and dented a 30 rack of Keystone. For one night I got to make hot dogs with the legend. My heart goes out to his dad Big John. Huge loss for the community.
Anytime you asked for extra cheese he made you feel like he was hooking it up. That stuff matters when you’re 14 years old.
Best dogs, better guy. Think about it.
Keegan from St. Christina:
I go to Western Michigan and he comes Up every September with his cart and we have this huge party. This year we had it in my back yard and he comes rollin into the backyard in the truck and starts serving dogs and gets blasted with all of us. He end up passing out on our back deck and used a bud light case as a pillow. We ended up stealing the famous sign that was hanging on his cart and is now hanging in our house. Every time I pass it I tap it like it’s the “Play Like a Champion Today” sign. Hell of a guy.
Joe from Brother Rice:
I just want say I appreciate you for writing a tribute blog to a dear friend of mine. I’ve known Teddy since I was 10 years old when he was catering parties on the south side. Since then he always treated me like family and even offered me a job at the shack on Western Ave. Since working there for the past two summers me and Teddy worked at many events catering at places such as Most Holy Redeemer Carnival, south side boxing matches, weddings, and even house parties at Western Michigan. All he wanted to do was have a good time and make everyone happy.
I’ll never forget all the great things he said to me and what he wanted to do to make Fat Johnnies even bigger. I hope he has had as big of an impact on all other siders as he did to me. He absolutely loved every one of his customers and all the tourists that came to shack to check out the all hype for what has been respectfully named the number 1 hot dog in America in the past years.
Please cook a Red Hot in memory of one of the best dudes to ever pick up a pair of tongs and stand behind a steamer slinging dogs day in and day out.
Teddy has been doing our family parties for years guy was a cool cat man. Comes and goes like the wind, I will miss helping him push his hot dog cart up in to his white piece of shit van wasted at the end of the night! R.I.P Teddy thanks for the memories!
When Teddy first started bringing the hotdog cart out for private parties around 2004-2005 my aunt hired him to cater in her backyard in the south suburbs. We had family coming in from out of town to visit because my grandmother was dying of cancer. Many of the people in attendance to this gathering were elderly. My cousin and I are hanging out by the hotdog stand drinking some beers and talking sports with Teddy. He of course only knows how to talk at a level 10 just loud enough for the neighbors to hear. My brother walks by Teddy while helping my grandmother inside, and Teddy shouts to compliment his Chicago Bears hat: “Nice f***ing hat!”. Guy was like a cartoon character. No filter. Classic Teddy.
Every time I shared my story someone else would have their own. Years later I ran into Teddy again, and I decided that I needed to make some work about him and the hot dog stand. Attached are some limited edition serigraph prints that I made of Fat Johnnies. Teddy was planning to buy 2 pieces, but he was always short on cash every time I visited the hot dog stand… haha…. He did however hook me up with some free hotdogs which just tells you that he was a good dude.
I am south sider who got transplanted up north 12 years ago by my husband. (At least he’s a sox fan). In 2016, for the dear hubbies 40th, we decided to have a bash. I got a permit to block off my street had live music all day and night. We had over 100 people. Dinner was catered from the VFW in Summit.
But the highlight was the Fat Johnnies.
I arranged for Teddy to bring the cart all the way up north. He was an hour late got lost twice, ended up near Wilmette, when he took the Edens, and not the Kennedy. But when he arrived, he was his own party. He set up shop in my neighbors driveway, and within minutes the line was 20 deep. He stood there slinging dogs, smoking cigarettes, drinking a beer and swearing like a sailor. It was magnificent. It brought back the sights, smells and sounds of summer, and a simpler time. He brought people joy with a hot dog. The most delicious hot dog you would ever have. He also introduced a lot of people to Mother-in Laws, which apparently is a South side thing?
My lovely north side friends and neighbors had never seen anything like it. They didnt grow up with local hot dog stands in their neighbor’s front yard or garage. That was a summer staple for us south-siders. They were in awe, they loved it, they couldn’t get enough. So much so, one of our guest hired Teddy for her kids communion party.
Teddy bridged a Chicago culture gap that day. His personality was unique and electric. He was funny and damn good at his art. Just not great at reading a map. Thank you Teddy, for sitting in traffic, and bringing a bit of the South Side up to Norwood Park.
We will have hot dogs today in your honor, but I know they won’t be nearly as good as the joy you provided in 2016 for us.
Jay from Oak Lawn:
Teddy was a great guy. He would cater our kids graduation parties. And as you know throwing a party you kind of forget to eat because your running around making sure things are done. But Teddy took care of you. I paid him after one party and mentioned i didn’t even get a chance to eat. He said “don’t worry brother I hooked you up”. I go in the house open the fridge and sure enough there were a dozen hotdogs there made the way my family likes them. Chicago style hide the sport pepper for me. Chili cheese for my wife and daughter and mighty dogs for my boys. I didn’t even have to ask him. He will be missed by my family deeply. He was a great guy.
An Old Friend from St. Rita:
Great article, but sooooo sad to hear about teddy’s untimely death. Teddy was one of my best friends in high school. We only had a few things in common, but teddy could have fun with just about anyone as long as you were genuine, like him. His parties were legendary even back then. I remember playing basketball (he was sneaky good at ballin’), joy riding in my park avenue, playing craps, and just hanging out and causing trouble with him. We lost touch shortly after high school and I have only seen him a handful of times since then, but it was always fun to see him and know he got back in the hot dog game! He is one of the few people from high school that I remember with fond memories. Thanks for the great tribute. He will be missed.
My son was friends with him.
Great article. I grew up there. Best Dogs hands down. Dude you put a tear in my eye. Teddy will be missed forever.
It was my cousins grad party, and teddy was slinging hot dogs left and right to all the guests at the party. As he was doing that he was getting drunk out of his mind enjoying the party. It was time to go, and just before everyone was leaving teddy had to be the life of the party. Full clothed teddy cannon-balled right into the pool. When he dried off, he used my towel. Long story short I didn’t get that towel back for about 8 months. Teddy was a great guy taken too soon, he will surely be missed.