Over 15 years we’ve written more than our share of headlines about Tasty Dog — the, yes, iconic, hot dog stand at Lake Street and Euclid. The Barton Brothers, owners of Tasty Dog, are back on the front page today with news that they have fallen behind in rent to their landlords.

How do we know and why do we care?

Because we — as in all of us — are the landlords for Tasty Dog. Newcomers won’t know that, as a way out of a development controversy at the intersection late in the last century, Oak Park’s village government bought an empty gas station, designed and built the handsome hot dog stand in question and has been collecting rent ever since. At least until the first of this year.

In our sepia-toned recollection, it was one of Oak Park’s most endearing protests. Hot dog lovers turned out in force — in the street, at village meetings — declaring that the price of progress at that corner should not squeeze out the little guys peddling dogs. It worked and Tasty Dog was saved.

Now though, things are not so obvious. Through a Freedom of Information request, the Journal has learned that by mid-May, Tasty Dog owed the village $40,000 in back rent and was operating under vague threats of serious consequences. Now, says Village Manager Cara Pavlicek, the matter has sadly entered the courts. It is a “rotten position” for everyone, says Pavlicek.

Even if you don’t like hot dogs, most people like the notion of Tasty Dog. But, facing our own rising taxes, we’d also like the rent paid.

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