Call Out The Hounds

Be it ever so humble, there are few things more All American than the beloved hotdog. What would a day spent watching America's Game be without at least one hotdog, perhaps smothered in Stadium mustard? When we find something to be spectacular, we don't shout "hamburger", or "pizza" do we? Cleveland has always been underrepresented when it comes to hot dog establishments, in my opinion. During my life in Parma, I don't recall even one hot dog joint, so I'm happy to say that now we have at least two: this article will focus on one of those.

As you drive on West 130th. St. past Southland Shopping Center, across the street is a smaller strip shopping center, and in the middle of the parking lot you will notice a tiny, colorfully decorated building. Don't be deceived by the tiny size of this place- this is the one and only Hounds Hot Dogs (so far). Gus Likos and his wife Teresa started this business in 2009. It has been nothing but hard work, as running a small local business always is, but the benefits of that struggle are already obvious to behold, as a steady stream of customers pull up to this delightful drive-up eatery, and they all drive away with the look of sheer anticipation on their faces.

Gus insists on selling only all-beef hotdogs, and for those who don't know, there is a major distinction between "beef hotdogs" and all-beef hotdogs. Just try a "beef hotdog" and compare it to an all-beef hotdog, and the difference will be obvious. So much more is on the menu here. There are Polish boys, Italian sausage with grilled onions and peppers, Gyro with homemade tzatziki sauce that you just won't believe. Soup, chili, multiple side dishes, beverages, and even old fashioned ice cream- they've got it all! Something else which is unique is that they feature daily specials which change from month to month. On a Wednesday for example, you can experience a Jumbo Pulled Pork Sandwich with potato salad for a paltry $5.75. I could go on and on. Because of the small size of their building, their operating costs are a fraction of other much larger places, and they are able to pass those savings on to their loyal customers, and their very low prices are evidence of that.

First and foremost, they are absolutely obsessed with the quality of the ingredients in their food. From the cucumbers in the gyro sauce to the kind of mustard on the all-beef hotdogs, incredible care goes into every aspect of what they sell. The proof of how effective this wise strategy is became obvious to me when I witnessed one customer after another drive up to the double windows, and every one of them greeted Gus and Teresa like they were family. Every customer seems to have their favorite item; Melissa from Parma told me that her husband, a truck driver, goes completely out of his way on his route during lunch just so he can get the Italian sausage (let's hope his boss is not reading this).

Like most immigrants who come to the United States, Gus has an extremely interesting story. He was born in Piraeous, Greece, a port city near Athens. It seems that his parents owned and operated a legendary Greek/French restaurant in Africa, and when a dictator took over the country, they were forced to flee, literally with the clothes on their backs. They came to America, where they had to start all over again from scratch. Gus moved here in 1973, and he studied engineering at Tri-C. His cousins were already established in the hot dog business in downtown Cleveland, where they operated many hot dog carts. Gus became involved then, and before you know it, many years passed and he was fully committed to the business.

Hounds Hot Dogs is a truly local business, my favorite kind of business to promote in this hyper-local paper, and you can be assured that when you spend your money here, you are eyeball to-eyeball with the owner, the quality of the food is just spectacular, and the money that you spend will not be whisked away to some far off corporate headquarters, but more rather will stay here where it can do the most good for our community. We are indeed very fortunate to have small businesses like this in our own community, and it has been my extreme pleasure to support them, and I urge you to do the same. The address is 6851 W. 130th. St., and they are open until 7:00 p.m. They can be reached at 216-235-7085.

Volume 2, Issue 8, Posted 9:55 AM, 09.01.2010