It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. It started out simply. I was on my way down Sepulveda Boulevard near Palms, when I first saw Hot Diggity Dogs. Sure, they specialize in hot dogs, and very fine hot dogs they are. But there was more. Much more.
A while back they started serving barbecue. You may remember that I enjoy a little barbecue now and then. So I was anxious to investigate. Let me just say right now that the barbecue beef sandwich is tasty but a little sloppy. In fact, it’s almost impossible to eat while speeding down the freeway driving with one hand and hoping the Jaguar’s steering doesn’t fall out again. If you would rather not arrive at your destination covered with barbecue sauce, and most days I would not, pull over for this one. The beef ribs are good, too. However, the baby back ribs are a life-changing experience.
I started to drop by once a week. Okay, twice. It’s not really near anywhere I usually go, but it didn’t matter. I’d find a reason to be in that part of town. I always ordered the same thing–half slab of ribs, no fries, side of potato salad. (The fries are good, but they put them under the ribs and they get all soggy from the sauce. Never mind, the folks at Hot Diggity Dogs are culinary geniuses, not packaging specialists. Besides, the potato salad is worth a taste anyway.) Since I’m the only one that orders that way, they started to notice.
It started small, an extra friendly greeting and a smile (the folks at Hot Diggity Dogs are extremely professional and gracious by nature). A “hello, nice to see you again.” Then a few extra ribs. Not getting charged for the side. One day I pulled away to discover they had given me a double order without charging for it. Clearly, it was time for a thank you. So I found out the manager’s name (Mr. Cornelius Bailey) and wrote a letter thanking him and his staff for the excellent job they do.
Now things got serious. When I picked up my order, they’d tell me “Mr. Bailey says hello!” Sometimes the kitchen staff would write nice notes on my styrofoam container. One day I came by on my way home from a difficult trip, and I got a double order with “Special Customer” on the styrofoam. So I had to do something.
Miss Hennessy is known in Basset circles for her modeling abilities (Basset Rescue of Southern California has a complete line of her greeting cards for sale–buy a few and support a wonderful cause!). All it took was a paper hat, four plain hot dogs, and my digital camera. And, of course, a celebrity endorsement.
You can see this photo just inside the front door of Hot Diggity Dogs. I get greeted by name now as soon as I start ordering. I still get extra food and personal greetings on the styrofoam now and then. Then I sent them a card and a tin of popcorn for Christmas. The next time I was there, I noticed they forgot to give me a knife–very unusual lapse of detail for HDD. Then I found out it’s because they are now cutting my ribs for me. Either this is a whole new level of service for favored customers, or they are no longer willing to trust me with sharp implements. Too close to call. Run, don’t walk–Hot Diggity Dogs.
Hot Diggity Dogs
3470 Sepulveda Boulevard
West Los Angeles, California 90034
Call for hours. They’re closed Sunday. They deserve the day off.
Oh, no! R.I,P. Hot Diggity Dogs. One day I went by and…they were gone. It’s now a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Like Los Angeles needs another coffee place. We can only hope Mr. Bailey and his dedicated staff are well and planning to open another wonderful restaurant somewhere near us, very soon.
Copyright 2000-2002 by Janine Smith. Not to be reproduced or distributed without permission