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Art's Chili Dog is Alive! The History of Art's

  • d

[For Bruce and Neta, and anyone else interested]:

That's the good news. The bad news is that Art, himself, died. My brother, Phil, along with his friend, Tom, and my nephew Michael went to the site and he filed this report:
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It's still there!!

Now officially called "Art's World-Famous Chili Dogs," it's essentially the same place with the same ambience and same menu.

Still just off the corner of Florence & Normandie (this btw, is the corner where the L.A. riots started when the white truck driver Reginald Denny was
beaten in the wake of the Rodney King affair), the stand is just a shack with one guy working the place, seating for about 5 people inside and some "patio dining" in the back. Pretty much the same menu as before with Hot Dogs, Chili Dogs, and tamales (did you remember that tamales were an original offering of Art's?) A dog is about $2. They have some cool sodas you don't normally see, like Vernors, etc.
I talked to the new owner, who still keeps the signed photos in the shop of some celebrities who
autographed the pics to Art, and one picture of the original stand showing Art behind the counter (a young guy with black hair and a thin moustache). He knew Art,
but never worked at the stand with him. Here's the history as I found it from the guy.

Art's opened in 1939. He ran the place continuously until he retired in 1990 (wow, over 50 years at the same place!) He left the stand to a friend or
relative, but the new owner had it only a short time, selling it to someone else in the very early 1990's. Art died in 1992. Sometime right around then,
the place went under and the bank repossed it. It was closed for almost a year.

Then a guy bought it from the bank, remodeled the place (I loved that cause it sure doesn't look "'remodeled"), and re-opened it with the same
menu. This is around 1994 I think. Then that guy sold it to the current owner sometime in the last few years.

They now make a sort of strawberry smoothie thing, which I guess is their one concession to the 21st century. Dogs are still great, mild chili (which I
like) and a Vernors. Can't beat that.

Do you think this is worth posting on Chowhound?
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I sure do!

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  1. Thanks Dave. I'm going to surprise my husband and take him there. He's always reminisced about those chili dogs. He'll be one happy man. Now, if you could only locate the Irish Shanty............

    3 Replies
    1. re: Neta
      b
      Bruce Wojcik

      Thanks for the update, Dave. I will go there and try it. When I was a kid in the early 50's I lived near Florence & Central (not too far from Art's Chili Dogs).
      I remember at Florence & Hooper was another good stand that had great chili dogs. In those days, that Florence neighborhood had several good hamburger
      chili dog establishments.

      1. re: Bruce Wojcik
        d
        Dave Feldman

        I wonder why, when southwest and Mexican food has become so popular, that chili is less of a "player" on the L.A. scene than it used to be. You couldn't drive for more than a few blocks without seeing signs for "chili dogs" or "chili size" in the 50s and 60s.

        1. re: Dave Feldman

          Most of the places that used to serve a lot of chili are now gone. In the 1960's I had a wholesale food route and delivered literally tons of chili bricks to a multitude of small, independent hot dog and hamburger stands in central L.A. which survived mostly on the lunch business. Over the next couple decades almost all of them closed due to urban redevelopment and growing competition from the expansion of fast food chains. About the only notable survivor now serving more chili than ever is Tommy's which has itself become a chain.

          For some reason hot dogs/ chili dogs and chili/ tamales were really never promoted by the major fast food chains as they had been with the small stands. Mexican restaurants experienced a big period of growth here but chili didn't really fit into the traditional Mexican menu.

          Many thanks for the update on Art's.

    2. hey dave, does the new owner still ladle the sauce in "the pouring liquid gold manner" and better yet how do the dogs taste. i might just have to pump up my already high cholestoral and give it a whirl. on a nother note, i tried difara's in brooklyn and it's as good as everyone says it is, esp. the regular cheese slice with no toppings great stuff. esp. great cheese flaveor. only problem was gets way too hot in the the store almost to the point of not be able to concentrate on the penultimate slice of slices.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kevin
        d
        Dave Feldman

        I'm going to see my brother in the next few days, and I'll ask. I agree the ladling was a huge part of the Art's experience. I think I mentioned that in my original post about Art's. And I think I comopared him to Dom at DiFara's -- both worked extremely slowly and meticulously. My brother did say the dog was terrific and the chili very much in the Art's style.

      2. Hey Dave, my name is Neal Elkind and Art was my father. Love the article, and i remember pops place back in the late 50's. Honestly there was no better chili dog or tamale west of the Mississippi or east, i would bet my last dollar on it. Pops passed away on Oct. 30th 1990 and he is buried with my brother who also worked there from a young age. I really apprectiate someone remembering him and the contribution he made to the community. The person to talk is my sister Brenda who is much older than i (i just turned 58 earlier this year. If you have any questions feel free to contact me and i will do the best i can to remember the good ole days.

        Sincerely,

        Neal Elkind

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        Art's Chili Dog
        1410 W Florence Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90047

        5 Replies
        1. re: ralphie112696

          is the hot dog stand still there?

          1. re: kevin

            Yes, still serving good hot dogs.

            1. re: reality check

              Can someone describe the frank itself. To me, that is more important than toppings, history, atmosphere, etc. Brand? casing or skinless? All beef? Beef/pork? Thanks.

              1. re: hotdoglover

                They have different kinds of hot dogs. All beef, regular, and even turkey. Pretty sure all are skinless.

          2. re: ralphie112696

            Hi Neal, A bunch of us knew your Pops well, we were regulars there at Art's Chili Dogs from the late 50's - the 70's, then occasionally through the 80's. There are over 3,000 friends at our Wich Stand site on Facebook, www.facebook.com/wichstand where I've featured your Dad and Art's... I'd love to hear from you and your sister, and maybe get a couple pictures of your Dad and of Art's back in the day. My email: larry@wichstand.com or if blocked Larry at wichstand dot com, and go visit the wichstand on Facebook, it might bring back some memories.
            Warm regards,
            Larry Sturchio

             
          3. I started going to arts in 1946 when it was at the same intersection of Florence and Normandie but catty corner from where it is now . In all of my travels over the years I have never tasted a chili dog as delicious as Arts. I lived in San Francisco Bay area during the riots in L.A. and assumed that the stand hadn't survived the riots. I have never gone back to that neighborhood since then. I was six years old when I started going to Arts and never stopped until I joined the USAF in 1954 as an adult I would always make a point to stop by Arts when in LA . I am delighted to hear that someone is still taking care of a fine Los Angeles tradition.
            Dick Sloane