We often long for the summers of our youth. It was a time when our BFF The Franz would pick us up in her super-fast-but-beat-up pea green Chevy Nova and we’d head to the soon-to-be-gone Mickey Rats beach in Angola.
Where we would have made our turn off Route 5 onto Lake Street is totally changed. Gone are the Angola drive-in, a taco joint that served the legendary “The Mother” burrito (usually consumed in the wee hours of the morning), the Block Hotel (now a Walgreens) and a dumpy little plaza (now a Rite Aid).
Yet since 1944, the steadfast Connors Hot Dog Stand remains on Lake Shore Road just steps away from Mickey Rats.
Connors started this season with a 16-foot addition and remodeling changes to make the busy operation run smoother.
Happily, the limited menu still has things like hot dogs, hamburgers and fresh-cut French fries. At the revamped condiments station the cute hand-cut pickles remain. (We loved the sweaty baby sucking on a paper cup of pickles go by in a stroller.)
Dogs start at $2.90 with a couple of different versions: cheese or sauerkraut ($3.15) and Texas sauce ($3.35). Burgers come single ($2.90) or double ($4.10); with cheese ($3.30/$4.50). A curious hot dog stand item - grilled cheese ($2.60) - also comes with ham or steak ($3.60).
Other options include fried bologna, onions and cheese ($4.65), a chicken sandwich and "bulky" steak and cheese ($4.95) and Italian sausage with pepper and onions ($4.90). Fries come in one size ($2.60). Shakes are $3.75; specialty $4.15, including Irish mint for those craving a Shamrock Shake.
There’s really not much more unless you count nachos ($3.40/$4.80) and bags of chips for 99 cents. (The ice cream stand area serves cones, sundaes and tornadoes – a version of a blizzard. Nothing over $5 that we could see.)
The food was just it should be. Uncomplicated, because when you are exhausted from swimming and sunning, that’s what you need.
Our hot dogs were perfectly char-blistered, one with a nice topping of Texas sauce and the other a healthy dose of kraut. A little mustard was all we needed. (Connors uses Wardynski dogs, so the flavor is a little gentler than a Sahlens.)
Our cheeseburgers topped with white American cheese on a fresh sesame roll were solid. We noticed lots of folks getting doubles.
Fries have a deep potato taste, probably because Connors uses locally grown. Diners get a gift at the bottom of the paper boat - little crunchy bits that are nice and greasy. (We cracked up at the French fry girl who dumped whatever fries remained on her tray onto our tray when we got our food.)
The Creamsicle shake was divine with a simple orange taste. Not overly thick, we could at least suck our straws without damaging our cheeks.
Connors new covered addition is fantastic, with lots of shaded picnic tables and retro items hanging on the wall, including what think was an old Connors sign. Milkshakes for 30 cents, ice cream cones for 10 cents, corn on the cob (weekends) for 25 cents and the hilarious cigarettes for 30 cents. Also “Ask for Wanakah Club Brand Beverages.”
If you take the kids, see if they can guess what “Cottage for Rent TR-2398” means. If you don’t know, ask your parents or grandparents.
Our hearts did a little flip on the way out when we spotted a circa 1980 red and white Z-28 Camaro with white leather interior. The only thing missing were fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror and a blasting Van Halen tune.
While we may not be able to travel back in time, we can at least visit Connors and relive our best memories.
Connors Hot Dog Stand
8095 Lake Shore Road, Angola
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
Price range: $2.90 to $4.95.
Parking: Large loot. All-day beach parking for $5, get $2 coupon redeemable for food.
Gluten-free options: No gluten-free menu.