There’s an art to making a good root beer float and Bob Bond knew what it was. In his Dog ‘N Suds restaurant on the SW corner of Higgins and Roselle Road, he perfected the process. The root beer arrived in the store as a concentrate and was made into syrup by combining it with the right amounts of water and sugar. This combination was stirred by hand with a large stainless steel paddle for exactly 50 strokes that were methodically counted out loud. If, at the end of the stirring Mr. Bond could feel any sugar that was undissolved, the syrup was then stirred another 50 times—exactly. Next, the syrup was put through the carbonation process and was ready to be dispensed. It was poured into a 32-ounce cup with soft serve ice cream that was creamy and smooth and had 4% fat content—another thing Mr. Bond prided himself on. Voilá, with two straws and two spoons, you had an End Of The Date Root Beer Float!
Float making wasn’t Mr. Bond’s first line of business. He and his wife, Margaret, bought the Dog ‘N Suds in the spring of 1965 from Bill and Kay Davis who opened the restaurant in 1963. Having been a salesman for Sears, Mr. Bond was eager to try something new. For the first year, Kay Davis worked the property with them and showed the Bond family the ropes. They also hired an adult manager to oversee daily operations. And, when their son Steven graduated from 8th grade, he started his first day of work in the family business. From then through the end of high school, whenever he was off school—and even on his lunch hours—he ran the back room/kitchen. Their son, James, earned his spending money there too. He kept the French fries coming and kept the parking lot clean from litter.
The restaurant was open from April through November and sat on property that was basically where Zippy’s is today. The entrance did not face Roselle; rather, it was perpendicular to the road. It was a square building with an enclosed patio area off the front. Despite the tradition of many Dog ‘N Suds, this restaurant was not a drive-in with carhop service. There were four walkup windows that would all be busy on a hot summer night when the homeowners who didn’t have air-conditioning in their new homes stopped by. In addition, there was a basement where supplies were kept.
The inside was not big but it accommodated a full soda fountain with multiple flavors for your sundaes and shakes from pineapple to mint to raspberry. There was also a steam table with four wells to hold hot dogs and buns. Fondly nicknamed “The Monster,” a chain driven broiler similar to those at Burger King flame broiled the hamburgers. Seven deep fat fryers with two wells completed the main portion of the kitchen.
And then there was the food. Hot dogs, Coney dogs with Dog ‘N Suds special Coney sauce, Italian beef, fish sandwiches, and two of their specialties—the Texas burger and fried chicken. The Texas burger consisted of 2 hamburger patties, a bun with a center piece, lettuce, cheese and Coney sauce. The chicken was fried in their deep fat fryers and sold as 4, 8, 16 and 20 piece portions. Mr. Bond also had an item unique to his store that was similar to the Maxwell Street Polish. Having grown up in Indiana, he was familiar with a small brand by the name of Eckrich and he began purchasing their smoked sausages to fry and serve as an alternative to the hotdog.
The Bond family took great pride in their restaurant and each November when the restaurant closed, the entire building was scrubbed from front to back and repainted. Even in their offseason, the Dog ‘N Suds was busy. For a small fee, they allowed Christmas trees to be sold from their lot with proceeds going to the building of the Campanelli YMCA on Wise Road.
The restaurant had its share of fame too. One of their highlights was the day Ernie Banks, “Mr. Cub,” stopped by the back door and asked for an ice cream cone. He was in the area as a promotion for the new Shakey’s restaurant that had just opened and a cool refreshment hit the spot.
The Dog ‘N Suds was successful but it did take a bit of a hit when work was done on Roselle Road. Considering that road construction takes place in the summer months when a Dog ‘N Suds is most popular, the timing wasn’t good. Then, in 1970 when a conflict with the franchise occurred, it moved them to close down. But—-not for long! They renovated the building and created a new restaurant called The Golden Yolk.
It operated as a sort of diner and, unlike the Dog ‘N Suds, was open year round. The interior seating was a simple horseshoe counter with stools for seating. There were no tables or booths and seating was first come, first serve. Many of the customers were delivery men from Polk Brothers and Sears, servicemen from Commonwealth Edison and Northern Illinois Gas and local trades people. If the counter was full, you stood along the wall and waited for one of the stools to become available. They offered big breakfasts with lots of potatoes (one of Mr. Bond’s musts!) and, for lunch, there was usually a blue plate special of meatloaf, turkey or roast beef. James remembers having to step in for his father one day when he was sick. Of course, it happened to be the busiest day in the Golden Yolk’s history. In the words of Mr. Bond, “I cooked 42 dozen eggs (two at a time). I was knee deep in eggshells.”
They kept this operation going for three to four years and sold it to a couple of gentlemen who renamed it Nick & Joe’s Italian Beef. There were various incarnations after that including Mr. C’s owned by Basile Douvris. In 1986, he and his son, Spiro, changed the name to Zippy’s. They tore down the building in 1991 and built the restaurant that was open until June 2013.
But, it was Dog ‘N Suds that started the ball rolling. What wouldn’t you give for one of their Root Beer Floats and Coney Dogs on a hot, summer day?!?
I could not have even begun this post without the assistance of TK&C who currently own the licensing rights for the Dog ‘N Suds chain. Not only did they give me permission to use their logo, but they were the ones who got the ball rolling for me. Their website is www.dognsudsbrand.com You can find a list of Dog ‘N Suds in the area. A big thank you to them for their help. My thanks also to Zippy’s corporate office for their input.
This post, however, could not have been possible without the memories of Steven Bond and James Bond, sons of James R. “Bob” and Margaret Bond. They could give me an answer to every question I asked–and in detail. Their youths were absorbed with their parents’ business and, to say they absorbed a lot, is to understate the obvious! In addition, Steven was lucky enough to meet his future wife, Valerie at the Dog ‘N Suds. She came to work for his parents while both of them were in high school!
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library