For 29-year-old Jacob Arden of Central Islip, the reason he got on line for a hot dog on a Tuesday morning was simple.
“Because it’s Charlie’s Hot Dogs,” he said. “Everybody loves Charlie’s.”
Arden could have spoken for anyone on the line in Islip Terrace, which stretched about 30 people deep when the second incarnation of the Charlie’s Hot Dogs truck opened to applause at precisely 11 a.m. — as promised on Facebook.
The old truck served hot dogs for nearly 50 years on Spur Drive North, just off the Southern State Parkway in Brentwood.
The new Charlie’s truck isn’t far away, and it will remain in Islip Terrace five days a week — Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. — in the Great River Superstar Beverage lot at 16 Lowell Avenue. Tuesday was its first day in the new location.
Charlie Summa, a disabled WWII veteran who died in 1998, opened the original stand on his residential property in 1963 under a special permitting program for veterans. It remained open until 2009, when his daughters, who were running the stand, were forced to shut down because of permit stipulations.
But one of Charlie’s daughter’s, Jeanne Summa-Becvar of East Islip, revived her dad’s legacy when she began making and bottling his revered onion sauce in 2015.
That business grew, and led to her reopening with the truck.
Among those waiting Tuesday on line, which only grew as the day progressed, was Lori Sweeney, 50, of Brentwood.
She was raised in the same neighborhood as the Summas, and even worked on the truck in the 1990s.
“I grew up right around the block from the hot dog stand,” Sweeney said. “This is extremely important to bring back, and [Jeanne] deserves it.”
So, what is it about Charlie’s?
“It’s got to be their hot dog hero,” she said. “Their three-dog chile cheese hot dog hero boy, with a Yoo-hoo. You gotta have a Yoo-hoo with it, too.”
For his part, Arden said the Summa family’s friendly, courteous service helped make their hot dogs popular. That, and the old truck’s location.
“The truck was an icon on Spur Drive; you couldn’t not see it,” he said. “The hot dogs are always good.”
“And don’t forget about their onions; come on,” Sweeney interjected.
“I thought that went without saying,” Arden said.
Having worked at the hot dog stand, on and off, much of her adult life, Summa-Becvar, previously told GreaterBayShore nostalgia plays a huge role in people wanting to recapture a taste they miss — a hot dog smothered in those onions.
“People want to feel like they’re kids again,” she said.
Summa-Becvar on Tuesday night told GreaterBayShore she was thankful for all the supporters as Charlie’s gets set “to serve another generation of fans.”
She also told us Charlie’s had to start limiting orders around 4 p.m., and by 4:30 the truck was sold out.
So it was a good thing Bill Cullan, 76, of Central Islip got there early.
“I used to buy 12 in a box for the family,” he reminisced. “And I would eat six of them.”