Beloved hot dog vendor says goodbye in Pittsfield

September 29, 2017 05:10 PM

It's the end of an era for hot dog lovers in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A man who's become a staple of the community is bidding a fond farewell to the street corner he's worked for the past 20 years.

But come Monday, his customers will be missing more than just lunch. To them, 75-year-old Ernie Jordan isn't just the north street hot dog guy. For the past 20 years, he's been a member of the family -- a father figure.

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Or grandfather. He named his business Grampie's Dog House.
In 1998, when Jordan was a newly minted grandparent, he lost his job with GE and had this wild idea about how to help make ends meet, inspired by a couple trips he'd taken to New York City.

"Every time I went to New York, When you get off the bus or anything, (you see a) hot dog or a pretzel stand. I said hot dogs would go good because I didn't think pretzels would," he recalled.

His family thought the idea was half-baked.  As it turns out, it really cut the mustard.

"It was a good supplement for my pension and stuff. We got to still go on vacation and stuff," he said.
Jordan says foot traffic has dwindled in recent years. As a result, the hot dog business cooled off -- forcing Grampie to give it up.

DIGITAL EXTRA: Full interview with Ernie Jordan

It's a tough blow to customers who say they'll miss more than his horseradish sauce.

"It's his great spirit. He has such an awesome spirit," customer Curtis Janey said. "It's good to come out on North Street just to see people and see his interaction with them. He's an amazing guy."

Jordan says he's not going to completely retire the hot dog cart. He plans to be available for the occasional party or special event.

He says he's ok with retiring. His kids though are not too sure.

"We thought he was crazy," said his son David Jordan. "He's always been busy his whole life.  He's not going to know how to slow down."

Jordan says he plans to spend time with family and maybe travel to Florida more.

His hot dog days will always hold a special place in his heart.

"I can't help it. I'm very emotional. These are all people I've seen for 20 years," he said. "I've had a good time."


WNYT Staff

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