I had the great fortune of being one of the first customers after Hot Dog Heaven opened. It was my birthday, and the start of an annual tradition: hot dog and a movie with my best pal. It was half the size it is today, with no real indoor seating and only two, uncovered cement picnic tables outside. As my friend and I were enjoying our meal we looked up and saw Mike putting in the window a handmade sign wishing me a happy birthday! The following year, they allowed my friend to put up balloons and streamers, and Beth pitched in by putting a sign on the women's bathroom door: RESERVED FOR JILL'S BIRTHDAY PARTY ... HAHAHA! All that is to say, they were a great couple of owners, fun sense of play with their customers, providing a terrific hot dog experience - and that has not changed in close to thirty years!
I was recently in Orlando on business and went out of my way to eat here. To my delight, the place has expanded in size, staff, menu offerings and customer base, with a clear bounty of regular and returning customers. The Chicago combo is just as I remembered - Vienna beef dog loaded with onion, pickle, relish, tomatoes, hot peppers (that I always opt out of) stuffed in a poppy seed bun; a pile of crisp fries and my choice of cole slaw (there are other options) on the side, and a cold drink.
Full disclosure: part of my enjoyment of Hot Dog Heaven is nostalgic, which makes me very happy with the memories but also in seeing Mike and Beth's hard work paying off even all these years later. But the reality is, their food is good at a decent price. Also, I don't know them personally and I don't believe they remember me from all those years ago. That won't keep me from telling people how great the place is, or keep me from going back every time I'm in the area. Considering they have maintained their standard all these years, I don't think anything could :-)
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