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'Served With A Smile': Hot Dog Eatery Celebrates A Century In Sioux City

A Sioux City family-owned eatery known for its hot dogs is celebrating a century in the community this week. The co-owners attribute the business’s success to its customer base.
On a Thursday morning at Milwaukee Wiener House, Mike Eliades is flipping patties and turning hot dogs, getting them ready for the lunch rush.

“So we’ll hand roll the hot dogs just to get a nice even heat on them,” Mike said. “Then we’ll move them over to the warming area of the grill. Once lunch gets around here we’ll put about four rolls equal length like we have here and get them ready to go so we’re ready to go to serve lunch.”

Mike co-owns the business with his brother John. They try to interact with their customers whenever they can. John says the restaurant has a generational appeal and the customers’ stories mean everything to them.

“And they always remember how much hot dogs were when they were a little kid. ‘I remember when they were a dime, I remember when they were a quarter.’ They love telling us that too,” John said.

"We chop all the onions fresh. We make all the sauce, served with a smile." -John Eliades

Milwaukee Wiener House opened in 1918, deriving its name from the Milwaukee Railroad line that was near its original location. John and Mike’s father, Tom Eliades bought the business in 1960, and moved the eatery to Pearl Street in 1974.

John and Mike became co-owners of the business in the 1990s and 2000 respectively and moved the business to Douglas St. in 2013 when the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino came to town.

Though their business’ location has changed, their menu has stayed the same: Hot dogs, sodas and chips.

“It works,” John said. “It just works. There’s no need to muddy it.”

John says he believes people keep coming back for their chili dogs. They make the chili sauce by hand each morning.

“It’s the chili dogs people come for,” John said. “We steam our buns; the wieners are made for us. We chop all the onions fresh. We make all the sauce, served with a smile.”

"If you've been here for 100 years, I think you're doing something right." -Marty Dougherty, Sioux City Economic Development

The other novelty, Mike said, is a window near the entrance where customers can see the hot dogs being made as they walk in.

“Everything we offer is within eyesight,” Mike said.

The brothers say they’re fortunate the business has survived so long. They plan to keep doing what they’re doing: serving up hot dogs and chili dogs with local ingredients that they say keeps people coming back again and again.

Changes are expected in Sioux City, as the city council recently approved an $11 million parking ramp for downtown. But Sioux City Economic Development Director Marty Doughterty said despite the area that's been changing and growing around them, with additions like the Hard Rock Casino and a hotel and conference center, he thinks Milwaukee Wiener House has been "a fixture for the area."

"If you've been here for 100 years, I think you're doing something right," Dougherty said. "It's kind of become a place where people like to meet."

Throughout the week, Sioux City will recognize the eatery, including announcing a proclamation for the restaurant at 4 p.m. Monday in City Hall. On Wednesday at 4 p.m. Brioux City Brewery will launch a beer at Milwaukee Wiener House.

On Friday from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m., customers can buy hot dogs for 100 pennies or $1 each.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.