TAMPA, Fla. - Mel Lohn opened his hot dog shop on Busch Boulevard in Tampa on July 3, 1973. Today, it's had a little bit of a face lift, but the nostalgia remains, keeping it a staple of the East Tampa food scene.
"It was 890-square-feet," Mel told FOX 13. "There was a counter along the wall and bar stools."
The family-owned, Chicago-style hot dog joint is still going strong, 49 years later.
Although, it looks a little different these days, thanks to Mel’s wife, Virginia.
"She came in and remodeled the restaurant in her eyes. It went from being a hot dog joint to being a real restaurant," Mel said.
Even though Mel’s Hot Dogs may look different, its iconic dogs, sandwiches, and thick-cut fries are still the same.
Their signature is the Vienna beef natural-casing hot dog on steamed, poppy seed bun, dressed with bright green relish, tomato slices, onion, a pickle spear, sport peppers, and celery salt.
"It pops when you bite into it, that’s a sign of quality," Mel said.
And don't forget to get a picture with the bright red Mel's mobile in front of the restaurant. The converted Volkswagen Beetle shows off that signature hot dog shape.
Mel’s Hot Dogs is located at 4136 E. Busch Blvd. in Tampa. They are open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.