Tuesday, March 9

Go-go Dancers & Special Sauce Today I visited with Pete Hontzas and his mother, Betty Hontzas, at Niki's West. The morning was filled with lots of great stories, but I think most folks who pass in front of the steam table at Niki's West might be surprised to know that there was a lounge in the back of the place in the old days. And evidently, the lounge (and yes, Mrs. Hontzas confirmed it, there was a go-go dancer involved) was where part of the expanded kitchen is today. If those walls could talk! And this afternoon I revisited Birmingham legend, Gus Koutroulakis (pictured here), who has been slinging hot dogs for more than fifty years from the same tiny stand in downtown Birmingham, Pete's Famous. Gus is quite a character, and I managed to spend a couple of hours in the place, taking in his hot dog wisdom, learning interesting tidbits from loyal customers and downing a few of Gus's famous dogs with that elusive special sauce. The sauce is unique to Birmingham and certainly a Greek addition to classic take-away fare. Tomorrow I head uptown to Andrew's Barbecue, which is owned by Aleck Choraitis who, by the way, used to own Gus's Hot Dogs. Gus's is now owned and operated by George Nasiakos. Confused? Keep checking back for the oral histories, which are to be posted here soon.