“It’s Been My Life” – The last days of Old Fashion Hot Dogs

After 98 years, Old Fashion Hot Dogs in Cleveland, Ohio is closing shop. We talk to the people who have been there the longest.

Old Fashion Hot Dogs (4008 Lorain Ave.) opened in 1928, started by a Greek immigrant named Emanouel Vasiliou. Vasiliou reportedly didn’t even like hot dogs, but he knew what the American public would like. He called his business the Hot Dog Inn, and concocted a chili recipe to top off his frankfurters. In 1987, current owner Tom Sorma purchased the business, along with his wife Loretta, and brothers Pete and John. They changed the name to Old Fashion Hot Dogs, but kept all the original recipes.

Now, 98 years later, the business will be closing. The building was sold to development company My Place Group, who will be tearing the building down in order to build condos on the site. March 28th of 2020 will be the last day of operation.

“This place is home to me, man.” sighs Pete Sorma, ladling chili onto a plate of hot dogs. Pete has been working night shift (Old Fashion is open until 1am most nights) for 32 years. The space is only 9 by 40 feet, and there are still customers in the early hours, some coming off night shift, others getting some food in their system after a night hitting the bars. “It’s going to be a big change,” says Pete. “I’m going to have to figure out what to do with myself at night.”

You can find our original story about Old Fashion’s closing here.