Tony’s Hotdogs plans 30 year anniversary

Published 12:44 pm Monday, October 23, 2023

By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM –  Almost 30 years ago, Joseph Tortomasi bought Tony’s Hot Dogs.

“My husband’s family actually owns the Sneaky Pete’s franchise,” said Joseph’s wife and Tony’s Hotdogs co-owner, Misty Tortomasi. “A friend of the family had opened Tony’s and it was here for a little over a year before he sold it to Joseph.”

Around 5 years later, after Misty graduated from high school, she began working at Tony’s Hot Dogs as well. She and Joseph married and have been running Tony’s together ever since.

“The biggest change I’ve seen over the years is the patience of our customers,” Tortomasi said. “Everybody’s become more patient and understanding. When the line was out the door, people used to see it, turn around and leave. Now the line will go out into the parking lot, and nobody seems to mind standing there waiting.”

Tortomasi attributes this change to be a byproduct of the pandemic, which caused people to get used to waiting and encouraged patience. Despite observing the changes in customers, Tortomasi noted that not much of Tony’s has changed over the years, and this is what helped them survive during the COVID-19 pandemic when so many other restaurants went under.

“We didn’t change one thing,” Tortomasi said. “Our hours were the same. We didn’t close for anything, and we were able to keep our entire staff. We did everything we could to keep it going.”

Now Tony’s Hot Dogs is planning its 30 year anniversary, set for Saturday, Oct. 28 to celebrate both the restaurant’s long history and the impact it’s had on the food scene of the greater Birmingham area.

“Last year, we won the best burger lunch spot,” Tortomasi said. “Then this year we won the best burger lunch spot again, and then this year we won second place for best hotdogs.”

Big Travel 7 also listed Tony’s Hot Dogs as the best place to find a hotdog in Alabama in 2020. 

“In most other restaurants, the owners aren’t actually there,” Tortomasi said. “What sets us apart is that any given day you come in here, you’ll see Joseph behind that counter. We treat everyone like family.”

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Tony’s Hot Dogs has a day full of activities planned, including face painting, a hotdog eating contest and a television will be raffled off. The event starts on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 11:30 a.m. and will run till 2:30 p.m.

“We’re hoping just to see a bunch of familiar faces, all the friends and family that have supported us over the last 30 years,” Tortomasi said.