Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Nathan's Famous: A culinary icon under repair

Photo by Timothy Miller/HuffpostNY
The other day I was putting together a list of long-run Capital Region restaurants for Gayot.com, a high-end travel and leisure website that avails itself of my services. When I came to Jack's Oyster House, established in 1913 and never closed to this day, it brought to mind another iconic spot founded just three years after that but forced to close after being whacked in late October by Superstorm Sandy.

That site is, of course, the original Nathan's Famous on Coney Island. Like Jack's, it operated continuously until the storm struck hard. But, fear not, lovers of Nathan's exquisitely-seasoned weiners, repairs are under way.

In a statement, the owners said, "Nathan's Famous was founded on the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues in Coney Island, Brooklyn, in 1916, and we believe that our flagship restaurant has operated continuously, 365 days a year, since that date.

"In October, Hurricane Sandy caused significant damage to the Nathan's facility, as it did to many other residences and businesses in Coney Island. Nathan's has begun the process of rebuilding and anticipates reopening this spring, before the summer season, with the same menu and the same Nathan's Famous experience that customers have enjoyed for almost 100 years. Plans are well under way to stage the annual Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, as usual. The contest will be aired on ESPN."

As The Brookly Paper reported right after the storm, "Nathan's ... and much of its equipment ended up under water when the Oct. 29 hurricane hit the Boardwalk. The company wouldn’t comment on the extent of the damage, but did say its losses were comparable to other Surf Avenue mainstays, which had fluid from the sewers bubble up into their businesses and destroy their interiors."

I must confess I have never consumed a hot dog that, to my taste, is the equal of a Nathan's. It is one of those rare edibles that kick-starts my tastebuds just from the thought of it.

Some of that may come from childhood days of strolling the Coney Island Boardwalk, a Nathan's in one hand, the other clinging to my grandfather's big mitt -- one of those personal memories that do not fade with time. Frankly, I don't care what it is. Just don't get between me and the last Nathan's hot dog on the platter.

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