Frankly, it was a day to relish for Mihir Patel.
The owner of Scooby’s Hot Dogs in Downers Grove said he’d never won any kind of award before his restaurant was inducted into the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame on Nov. 15.
“It feels great,” Patel said. “I never thought this day would come.”
To be fair, it wasn’t exactly a dream come true. Patel said he never knew there was such a thing until the Vienna Beef people told him his business was the 150th inductee nationwide since the hall’s inception in 2006.
Bob Schwartz, Vienna Beef senior vice president, said he came up with the idea of a hall of fame as a way of thanking customers for “bringing us to the dance with them.”
Schwartz said most restaurants in the hall of fame have been in business for at least 20 years.
But a more important requirement is community service.
“In the old days, hot dog stands were at the center of the neighborhood. They were like the capital of every little suburb and town,” he said. “The restaurants that last longest are the ones that have become part of their community like Scooby’s has.”
Scooby’s has hosted numerous community fundraisers and has a reward program with the library that rewards young readers with hot dogs.
“The award was created to honor longtime food service operators that have developed into neighborhood landmarks and that’s exactly what you guys have done,” Schwartz said during the induction speech.
After receiving a hall of fame pin and plaque, Patel thanked his local customers for their longevity.
“We would not have survived without the people of Downers Grove,” he said.
He also paid homage to longtime manager Miguel Escobedo, whom he called “the heart of this place.”
Escobedo has worked there for 24 years and said he frequently received overtures from other wiener suppliers.
“Doesn’t matter what company comes to try to get us to switch over, I never switch over,” Escobedo said. “They say, ‘This is a better hot dog, cheaper hot dog,’ I just say Vienna, Vienna, Vienna. It’s the best hot dog.”
Patel bought the Downers Grove Scooby’s Hot Dogs location at 4319 Prince St., in 2002. It opened in 1996.
Several dozen supporters and associates came to honor the business, including former employee Matt Kulp of Downers Grove.
Kulp’s first job was at Scooby’s in 1997 when he was 15. He trained Escobedo during his tenure, which spanned three owners, of which one was Patel.