Monday, September 27, 2010

Only in Rhode Island: Hot Dogs

The 9/25/10 New York Times  has an amusing/alarming story featuring  Olneyville New York System, a curiously-named locally famous hot dog chain (three restaurants) which hit a Rhode Island roadblock (a/k/a corruption) when it attempted to add two operating hours at its North Providence location. Named New York System when it opened in 1946 because the owner's Greek family got its restaurant start in Brooklyn, these are neon-signed homey hot dog joints where coffee milk rules. The dogs are part of Rhode Island lore. That my hot dog savvy friend says he has reservations about boiled hot dogs with meat sauce and celery salt is another matter - these hot dogs are very popular.

The newest restaurant opened in North Providence in 2007 and in 2009 applied for a two-hour extension which would put closing time at 3:00  a.m. You're probably wondering why a hot dog restaurant would want to stay open until the trouble-making hour of 3:00 a.m. in a semi-suburban town of 32,000 people, but this is Rhode Island and guys leaving the Satin Doll need somewhere to eat. Anyway, the owner ran into a stall and soon learned the cause: certain town council members expected to be paid before ruling on the application. The owner wasn't buying and his two hours were denied. The story would never have made the papers except the owner became "John Doe No. 4" when the councilmen were indicted by the U.S. Attorney, and the New York Times tracked the story down. It's kind of funny and pathetic at the same time. The indicted trio were part of a seven-member council (one of whom wore a wire) and weren't part of any organized mob. When one of the guys tried to shake a guy down via text message (text message!) the permit applicant responded, in part, "... this is real life, this isn't a movie like the Sopranos ..."
New York Times article:

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