Monday, March 8, 2010


We sometimes forget that St. Louis used to be one of the biggest cities in the country. It was San Francisco. The new edge of the country.

Around the turn of the last century, kids sat sulking in their New York City tenements waiting for the day they could afford to leave filthy New York behind and move to the big green end of the world in St. Louis. It's important to remember.

St. Louis is over-filled with history. It's running down the side of your 32oz Styrofoam cup, making your hands sticky.

We hosted a World's Fair for Christ's sake. There is a case to be made that the hot dog was invented here.

What if every time you stopped by the 7-11 on Southwest Ave for a chili dog, Guy, the attendant, handed you a white hot dog eating glove with which you clinched a naked hot dog between your first two fingers and thumb?

Where would you put the chili?

Apparently that's how frankfurters used to be served. Then some upstart business man brought his sausage and his box of white gloves to St. Louis, the big city, in search of fame and fortune. Instead what he found was hungry St. Louisans who wanted nothing to do with his kid gloves. They said things like, "You can keep the glove pal," and "What do I want a glove for? Just give it to me on one of those rolls."

Voila! An icon is born.

I wish I had been there at the moment of conception. The first guy to put a hot dog on a bun and top it with a squirt of yellow mustard. I wasn't.

But I go to Woofie's in Overland. So I'm not sweatin it.


Imagine its 1983. You're 22 years old. Your buddy has a 1960's small body muscle car with shitty brakes, shitty paint, cigarette burned interior and ashtray full of roaches. You are riding shot gun. Tall cans cost a quarter. It's a Saturday night in early September. Alice Cooper is on the radio. You're in the Parking lot at Woofie's. This is the beginning.

Woofie's At Night

Tonight could end anywhere, but it starts with a Coney Dog and a large Coke. A perfect base for a night of swilling cheap beer in tall cans still wet from coolers of ice, each can from a different gas station in a different part of town. The American Dream.

In St. Louis you can still touch it.

Go to 1919 Woodson road in Overland. Ask Paul. He got the place 14 years ago. He loved Woofie's hot dogs so much, he and his buddy mowed lawns for the owner just to be close to the action. Then the owner died. Paul got Woofie's and his buddy got the lawn mowing business. Paul sleeps well at night.

Unless he stays up painting signs or brainstorming new topping combinations. Go to Woofie's. Look at all the hand drawn and painted signs. Paul made every single one. His wife says it's like a grade school art project.

Paul The Owner

Woofie's is the monument to St. Louis' ownership of the hot dog. It's the proof. As far as I know there is no bronze plaque at the fateful spot where wiener first settled into bun one sunny day in the 1880's. But there is Woofie's. You can take a picture of a Chili dog the same way you can take a picture of a monument.

CONEY DOG: A Woofie Dog With Special Chili, Cheese, Chopped Onion & Pickle

In St. Louis a good thing can go on for ever. It just takes passion.

The Best Dumpster Corral In The World
Hand Painted by Paul


STL BIKE POLO W.K. said...

I've been here for 26 years, and it's obvious I know NOTHING about this city I call "home."

I fail.

Trent said...

the fbc said...

oh man, woofies. my dad used take us there on saturdays for lunch. my brother hated mustard so we all made fun of him and his inferior hot dog. it was awesome.

Anonymous said...

I will never go back. I like to support local, unique restaurants. I've been there before and was generally pleased with the food.
I recently ordered the "Big Herm", an 11-inch dog. If it was a Vienna Beef product I couldn't tell, as it was flavorless and had "no bite"; it was as soft as the bun. I asked for no relish. Of course it was covered by minced, sweet pickles.
The topper was the payment policy: there's a note by the register saying there's an extra $1.39 fee(!) to use a debit card. My bill was $10.20. I was asked if I had 20 cents. This was because they could only charge me $10, or $15, and I would be reimbursed $4.80 cash if I didn't have the 20 cents. I did not. Have you ever heard of such an operation?
I was assessed a $15 charge for a crappy, wrong order that was supposed to be $10.