They weren’t putting toddlers in car sets in the 1950’s, but if they were I would have had my first Libby’s hot dog in a car seat. As it was, my dad put my in the back seat and parked across the street from what at the time was a roadside hot dog stand. He got out, secured the wieners, and we all ate them in the car.
Libby’s Lunch on McBride Avenue in Paterson, N.J., across from the Great Falls National Historic Park, closed on Thursday. It had been in business since 1936, originally achieving success by serving the thousands of employees of the textile mills and other factories built around the falls. The roadside stand was later replaced by a modest diner-type building with a lunch counter and booths. The property and building were leased from the city of Paterson. That lease expired on July 31 and was not renewed. Reportedly they owed the city $93,000 in rent.
What Libby’s was famous for is the Hot Texas Weiner. A deep-fried crispy hot dog adorned with mustard, chopped onions and chile sauce, it is enormously popular in the Paterson/Passaic/Clifton area of northern New Jersey and virtually nowhere else.
The Hot Texas Weiner was invented in Paterson. According to the Library Congress’ “Brief History of the Hot Texas Weiner:” it “was invented around 1924 by ‘an old Greek gentleman’ who owned a hot dog ‘stand’ on Paterson Street in downtown Paterson. This gentleman was experimenting with various chili-type sauces to serve on his hot dogs, and apparently drew upon his own culinary heritage for the first Hot Texas Wiener chili-sauce recipe.” (No word on the ‘old gentleman’s’ name.)
William Pappas had worked at that hot dog stand and in 1936 he struck out on his own, founding LIbby’s. In 1949, one of Libby’s employees, Paul Agresti, left and started the Falls View Grill just around corner and down the street a bit. When I was growing up you were either a Libby’s guy or a Falls View guy. My family was committed to the former. Falls View went under in the late 80’s. That site is now sadly a Burger King.
Libby’s last day looked like this:
You might think that Libby’s closure will mean a healthier diet for me. Nope. I’ll just be doubling down on my other favorite.