In Maine, Hot-Diggity Dogs
Flo passed away in 2000 at 92. She worked the day she died, Gail said, cutting the dogs and chopping the onions, as always.
If hate has been one of the secret ingredients, the sauce's devoted followers are clearly gluttons for punishment. There are regulars who show up nearly every day, and many patrons have been coming religiously for decades, sometimes traveling ridiculous distances to do so. Once, two former locals who'd moved to California showed up for the lunchtime rush.
"They flew to New York and rented a car to come up," Gail said. "Then they went right back to New York City. They were there on business and they figured that they were pretty close [to Maine]."
The line often starts forming well before the screen door opens for business at 11 a.m. "If I'm within 15 miles of this place, I'm here," said John Kyle, who was eagerly queuing up at 10:50 on a recent morning.
Don't show up at Flo's with hopes for a varied and balanced meal. Other than dogs, the menu offers only potato chips, and drinks are limited to soda, milk, coffee and iced coffee. A seating area is composed of a few dilapidated picnic tables next to the shack. Most folks eat in their cars right there on the roadside.
Gail said she doesn't count the number of dogs she sells on a given day, but it's not uncommon for a patron to order three or four at a time. The most hot dogs she has ever served one customer is 230, though the batch was shared with a larger group of fans.
This summer, a guy set a Flo's record by devouring 20 dogs in 38 minutes. Before that, the longstanding record had stood at 18 in 45 minutes.
"We don't promote that, though," Gail said. "If someone dies, I have to live with it."
-- Seth Sherwood
Flo's (1359 Route 1, Cape Neddick, Maine) is open daily except Wednesdays, year-round, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. No phone.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company