Hotdog Opolis is one of the many local restaurants that have been affected by the pandemic. Located at 6020 N Federal Hwy, Boca Raton, Hotdog Opolis relies on the support of loyal customers. Hotdog Opolis owners Judy Zimmer and Harvey Loewenstein spoke about their experiences with their business.
Hotdog Opolis had a unique start. Opened during the 2008 recession, the hot dog joint was already defying restaurant standards. Although they’ve been open for 12 long years, the owners hadn’t originally imagined they’d be opening a hot dog.
“I worked in the airline industry for several years. I was involved with catering and meals on board and all that. And when we came here, I decided I wanted to open a restaurant business. So we took this location, which is a bit out of the way, and we were going to open my restaurant business, ”Zimmer explains.
Harvey said it would take about six months for that to be established. So why wouldn’t we do something to offset the costs while we waited, maybe just sell hot dogs for lunch or something? is really how we started.
With some experience in catering and business, the two opened Hotdog Opolis. It quickly became a fan favorite due to the nature of the restaurant. Customers generally feel at home when food stays fresh and the Frank Sinatra radio stays on. Specializing in Chicago-style hot dogs, the couple are always keen to add to their expansive and diverse menu.
“The Chicago hot dog itself is the hot dog of depression. Because it was, they say, dragged into the garden. So you have mustard, relish, onion, tomato, pickle, celery, salt, soy peppers. So it’s like a little salad on your hot dog. And it was considered a meal during the very difficult times of the Depression. So this is Chicago’s hot dog. It’s Chicago style, ”Zimmer says.
This is not the only thing that sets Hotdog Opolis hot dogs apart. Their menu options are constantly expanding and filled with quirky options. “We have so many different toppings. Many of them have been recommended by customers. Our suppliers are also very supportive. They know we love some of the unique things, ”says Zimmer.
However, finding unique food is not above trials and tribulations. Hotdog Opolis was forced to adapt during the pandemic like many other dining venues. Some adaptations were more unexpected than others.
“Well, some products were hard to come by. There was a time when we couldn’t have gloves. We were ordering them online because of the need in nursing and everything. Everyone has increased their takeout, of course. So trying to get the right hot dog takeaways and everything was tough. “
“We have a board full of banknotes, people are calling me on the shelves. And you need to prioritize those things, especially with delivery services, with Uber and GrubHub. So you have to rush them because you have 15 or 20 minutes before that driver shows up. And there’s no way you can reach them and say, “Hey, could you hold that guy for another half an hour?” “, Explains Loewenstein.
The pandemic also affected the way these owners treated their customers. It took a lot of patience to cope with the new changes in the restaurant. The bathroom became inaccessible and the store was cut in half. Many customers weren’t happy with the fact, but the owners stood firm in their decision.
“I don’t fight with people whose game is behind us and it was very stressful. But it is difficult because it then sets off a chain reaction, ”explains Loewenstein.
“There are days when you just can’t get certain products. Most people understand this, but some do not. Some customers don’t understand. They expect them to come here, they want it and we don’t have it. They are disappointed. And it all goes with it. “
But the pandemic itself has changed since last year. Many people have learned to navigate and adapt to the virus more easily. This is true for the hot dog joint. Now Judy Zimmer and Harvey Loewenstein can once again host some of their loyal customers for a sit-down dinner.
“I’ve been in the kitchen throughout the pandemic and haven’t seen too many customers, maybe handing them a bag out of their car window, that’s about it,” Zimmer says. “But now we see our familiar faces again. They don’t wear masks, they just sit and enjoy the food. And these are people that we have seen grow old or grow up.
And that’s not the only good luck this couple has known. The chance to rest and recuperate was an adjustment they were surprised to appreciate.
“We are compressing 47 hours in twenty-five hours. We are therefore still twenty-two hours short of what we normally operate. But now we’re closed on Sunday and Monday and we don’t want to return it, ”says Loewenstein.
More time to relax isn’t the only thing these owners look forward to. The ability to interact with their customers is very important to Judy Zimmer and Harvey Loewenstein. The couple love to combine their love for their business with their local community.
“This business wouldn’t survive without the owners being your employees who are seriously interested in the business. they are comfortable [the customers], and they are comfortable coming alone because they see a friendly face.
One of the biggest things these hot dog owners anticipate is getting back from their loyal customers. For Harvey Loewenstein and Judy Zimmer, customers are the favorite part of their business. They also enjoy the freedom to be themselves in a business of their own.
“It’s a great feeling. I have to say after being a member I loved working for TWA, but knowing that you can make your own decisions. You will always have a boss somewhere. we’re going to have people you depend on just to provide you. But if we decide to roll out three new hot dogs tomorrow. We can do it and there is no pain. So that’s good, ”Zimmer says.
Having the freedom to make such a unique daily snack is what these owners strive for. Especially in times of a global pandemic, Hotdog Opolis thrives on its community and with the support of its loyal customers. Everyone has their place and a unique experience at Hotdog Opolis.
It is only with local support that places like Hotdog Opolis can get through the difficult times of the pandemic. Remember to support local businesses when you can and help keep your community strong.