Tony’s Hot Dogs gets ready for another 30 years

Published 12:43 pm Monday, October 30, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Tony’s Hot Dogs 30-year anniversary celebration kicked off with a hotdog eating contest. The winner, Andrew Johnson, ate 16 hotdogs in under 10 minutes.

“I didn’t eat breakfast,” Johnson said. “I had a big meal last night for dinner, but I don’t usually eat breakfast anyway.”

Johnson noted that the buns were the hardest part of the eating challenge, and he made a point not to drink any water during the contest.

“I was dipping them in the ketchup, the mustard, the Tony sauce,” Johnson said. “I did a Moon Pie eating contest when I was 13, and I haven’t eaten a Moon Pie since. I said, ‘I do not want to not like hot dogs anymore,’ so I said, ‘I’m going to eat as much as I can without making myself sick, and I’ll stop if I hit a wall.’”

Johnson notes that he hit that “wall” when the clock was at nine minutes and 30 seconds, but he won the contest regardless. 

“I even managed to take a few extra bites afterward,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s performance in the hot dog eating contest was just one of the many ways Tony’s Hot Dogs celebrated their 30-year anniversary. There was also a face painting stand, a balloon animal maker and even another eating event where Mark Brown attempted to break his record of eating a six-patty bacon cheeseburger by eating an eight-patty burger, though he only made it to seven.

“They aren’t small patties either,” AJ Tortomasi said. “They hand patty all their stuff. That’s 180 pounds of meat a day.”

AJ Tortomasi is the father of Tony, the titular owner of Tony’s Hot Dogs, and he and his wife, Veta, have been supporting their son’s restaurant since day one.

“Tony was 24 when he started,” Veta said. “And he said, ‘Mom, I think if I can get the breakfast, I think I can make it here.”

Veta and AJ both noted that today, Tony’s Hot Dogs has one of the most popular breakfasts in Pelham, and the restaurant, in general, is well-attended and loved for its family-like atmosphere and commitment to excellent food. The owner, Tony, can always be found right behind the counter, ready to greet customers and prepare his signature hot dogs.

“This place is the ‘Cheers’ of Pelham,” AJ said. “It’s the kind of place where everybody knows you and what you want the minute you walk in.”

Tony’s Hot Dogs is located at 1922 Montgomery Hwy, and by all accounts, is getting ready for another 30 years of hot dogs and hamburgers.

“Tony never takes a vacation,” Veta said. “Unless it’s a holiday.”