On a recent trip to Florida, the family and I stopped in at a Tampa mainstay hot dog stand, Mel’s Hot Dogs. Owner Mel Lohn sat down with us while we munched on Vienna Beef Franks – Chicago style of course – and some of the best damn french fries I ever had. We “chowed down,” mingled with the patrons, and got Mel’s story.
Mel’s Hot Dogs – A Rock n Roll Refugee
Mel was a rock n roll musician from Chicago; back in the sixties, he was touring the country with his band when they got a gig in Sarasota. After soaking in the scene (and the sun), Mel decided he liked warm, sunny Florida a heck of a lot better than his frigid, native Chicago. He never left.
That was December of 1968. Mel was looking for work in the Tampa area and he wanted a hot dog for lunch. When he couldn’t find one, he decided he’d open a hot dog stand until he found another gig. Forty years later, Mick Jagger hasn’t called and Mel’s Hot Dogs is going strong!
Mel’s Hot Dogs is a Vienna Beef hot dog stand. They serve up Chicago Italian Beef and, of course, Chicago Hot Dogs. There are plenty of other hot dog options too, but the TRUE Chicago Dog is a delicious treat no matter where you have them.
The place was pretty busy for a Monday (we got there at 11 AM sharp – when they open), but it filled up quickly. We toured the place, met some of the employees, and soaked up the atmosphere.
Mel’s is located at 4136 E Busch Blvd. in Tampa (right around the corner from Busch Gardens) and they’re open 6 days a week, Monday-Saturday, from 11 AM to 8 PM. Mel still works there; he says he’s having too much fun to retire. If you’re looking for a quality hot dog in Tampa, Mel’s Hot Dogs is worth the trip.