Fresh off their appearance on CLTV’s “Chicago’s Best”—where viewers pick the best food in the Chicago area—Peter and Carol Vithoulkas ran out of food at their 95th Street restaurant Fatso’s.
Perhaps it was the look of ecstasy on host Ted Brunson’s face when he bit into the Fatso dog—a deep fried, tortilla-wrapped double dog stuffed with grilled onions, French fires, cheese, Jalapeno peppers and French fries—that sent hundreds of residents running to the new Oak Lawn eatery the next day.
“We ran out of food for about 15 minutes so we made a quick trip to Restaurant Depot,” Carol told Patch. “We knew we’d be busy after the show but we never expected to be this busy.”
Carol and husband, Peter, owners of Fatso’s at 6035 W. 95th St., have spent the past three months on what may possible be the longest “soft opening.”
“We’ve been trying to train everybody and make sure we had enough staff,” Carol explained. “Then ‘Chicago’s Best’ came. We didn’t get to do a grand opening.”
The couple moved into the former Checkers drive-in that stood empty for two years on 95th Street.
“We’re trying to bring back the old school, Chicago-way, when you had your favorite place on the corner,” Carol said.
For Carol, that place was Little Denny’s in Back of the Yards at 45th Street and Ashland Avenue.
“We used to go every day just to get our chili fries,” she said. “Little Denny’s also served gravy bread.”
Fatso’s isn’t fast food. It’s made to order and worth the wait. While after eating a Fatso triple-decker cheeseburger one might consider immediately driving to Advocate Christ Medical Center for an emergency bypass, Fatso’s fare isn’t greasy. All of the ingredients are fresh and high quality.
“It’s like eating at home,” Carols said. “Everything is fresh. Nothing is hidden. Everything is homemade here; we know what we’re putting in our food. The only frozen things are the mozzarella sticks and poppers.”
The Fatso's dog was easily the most decadent thing I've eaten on 95th Street, not counting the red velvet French toast at the village's other new restaurant Stacked. Both restaurants make 95th Street the most decadent street in Oak Lawn.
- Although their restaurant is called Fatso’s, Carol and Peter are not the least bit chubby.
- Carol and Peter met in 1987 when Carol worked for Pete at one
- The restaurant was named Fatso’s by the Vithoulkas’ son, Peter, because, “you and dad are always giving out a lot of food,” Carol said.
- How long did it take for Peter Vithoulkas to invent the Fatso dog? Two minutes.
- It took Carol two days to invent the Fatso burger, three char-grilled Angus beef patties piled with cheese, onion rings, fries, lettuce, tomato, cheese and special sauce.
- How does Carol keep so trim? She eats four bowls of Fatso’s homemade soup a day, made from her late mother-in-law’s recipes.
- Peter’s family has owned family-style restaurants since 1968. Peter used to own Pete’s Patio, now the Skillet House, at 108th Street and Cicero. “It was a rib house,” Carol said. “People were lined up outside.”
- The photo of the Fatso Dog was the most shared photo on Chicago’s Best’s Facebook page.