Campus Dogs & Deli is Open for Business


Campus Dogs & Deli is our latest restaurant project and its grand opening is this week. The newly renovated space, formerly of ‘Fat Sandwiches’, is full of sunlight, thanks to an inviting street side window and plentiful bar seating in bright red metalwork.

The biggest challenge of this brand new dog and deli bar, which will focus on house cured meats, elevated sandwich fare, and piping hot artisanal franks was its spatial layout. As you can see in our photos, the bar, hood and prep areas are fit into a large triangular space with lots of corners to contend with. Through our assessment process, we landed on a kitchen and seating area design that maximized space and created a cozy and functional environment, well suited for serving lines of hungry customers.

Campus Dogs interior new hot dog and deli in Lincoln Park

Campus Dogs new hot dog and deli exterior

The odd shape of the space proved to be the biggest design challenge. The floor plan takes on the form of a barbell, wide at the front and rear, with a bottle neck at the center. We were able to comfortably fit the kitchen and serving area in the front, with the warewash flow cycling to the rear. The triangular shape ended up working to our advantage within the context of functionality; the widest portion of it provided more space for kitchen staff to navigate than a traditional line/prep table set up, and the narrowest part of the triangle actually minimized trip time between kitchen equipment. Our second obstacle was increasing the access to natural light into the existing dark and dusty interior. The previous signage was also placed at an awkward angle, making it difficult to read the menu and other information. Thanks to a reworking of the storefront glazing, we were able to gather light access all the way up to the 12′ ceiling allowing light to spill deep into the main customer area. While natural light proves to be the most attractive interior design element, the finish materials do their part too welcome and serve customers.

Moving forward from the kitchen into the seating and serving area, we wanted to make the menu reading experience a comfortable one for everyone, and so moved our signage and pricing back from the counter so no extreme head tilting was necessary. We also aligned our Campus Dogs signage with the street and the windows to bring alignment and continuity to an angular kitchen.

We wanted to visually indicate customer space vs. kitchen space, and echoed that with our choice of material. With the open kitchen trend still alive and well, allowing customers a glimpse into the fast and furious food prep going on to serve them their meals, we wanted guests to feel invited into the culinary space, but still feel aware of the division between the sterile clean of the kitchen, and the inviting aesthetic of the seating area. We did this with a gentle transition of warm wood and neutral tile flooring in the guest area, juxtaposed with industrial stainless steel in the prep kitchen.

As a sustainable architecture firm, we always try to salvage cool design elements and quality materials rather than starting completely from scratch. After tearing through layers of sheet rock and wall paper, we discovered vintage brick, which the our client loved enough to keep, despite it not being in the original rendering. We also uncovered a sign for Burnett’s Extracts, a former business occupant that was running (and won a medal!) during the Chicago World’s Fair.


Brothers Colin and George Foy will run Campus Dogs & Deli, along with their father Bryan. The brothers are lifelong Chicagoans and wanted to set up shop in Lincoln Park, next to the DePaul campus, which they love because it attracts people from all walks of life. The idea for Campus Dogs was born in a college business class, where they envisioned a neighborhood comfort food spot with high quality meats and cheeses that would cater to a wide palette. They immediately jumped at the cozy space that Campus Dogs now calls home, citing its compact square footage as an opportunity to offer competitive pricing for hopefully repeat customers. Stop by for a free peanut butter rice crispy treat (their mom’s recipe) and to survey the new space!