SIOUX CITY | How far would you travel for a chili dog with the works?
If you're Donald Solomon, 79, you'd drive more than 700 miles for a Double Dog from George's Hot Dog Shop, 1419 Hamilton Blvd.
"I only make it back to town a few times a year," said Solomon, a Sioux City native. "But during each visit, I need my hot dog fix at George's."
This is something that George Demetroulis hears all the time.
"We have customers from all over the country," he said. "As soon as they come back to Sioux City, they come to see me because my hot dogs remind them of home."
"I like that," Demetroulis added. "It makes me feel good."
A native of Greece, Demetroulis opened George's Hot Dog Shop with wife Mary in 1975.
"We figured it would be a good business," Mary Demetroulis said. "Everybody likes hot dogs, right?"
That's certainly true at George's where Demetroulis grills all-beef hot dogs, drowning them in some truly decadent chili and chopped onions.
"If a person orders a Supreme, I'll top it with mustard, chili, onions, relish, jalapenos, you name it," Demetroulis said.
In fact, he will even "supreme" a hamburger. That's exactly what he did for Charlie Hardness.
"Normally, I'm not a fast food guy," Hardness said, taking a bite out of the massive burger. "But this is not your typical fast food."
A Sioux City native, Hardness moved to Tucson, Arizona, many years ago.
"I was back in town for a wedding when I drove past George's," he said. "George had already closed for the day when I rapped on his window."
"I never let down a customer," Demetroulis said. "As soon as I saw (Charlie), I knew it was time to get back to work."
Hardness always remembered the hot dog man's kindness. That's why he's been a return customer every time he's back in Sioux City. On this occasion, he also brought along his 7-year-old granddaughter, Lola Reinert.
"How do you like your hamburger?" Hardness asked her.
"Boy, this is really good," Lola said, between bites.
Demetroulis said business has remained good but it can always be a bit better.
"There is so much competition for a shrinking dollar," he said. "When I opened the shop, there was much less competition. Today, there are at least nine food places within a few blocks of my store."
"That's too much," he said.
Still, Demetroulis makes a go of things by stressing good food at fair prices. This also includes his wife's famous potato salad and homemade baklava.
"We gotta stress our Greek heritage," Mary Demetroulis said with a grin. "Plus my baklava happens to be excellent."
Once the lunch trade slows down a bit, Demetroulis stops for a moment to take stock.
"I'm lucky since many of my customers are regulars who come several times a week," he said. "If they move away, they'll also come back. They're just happy we're still around and that the hot dogs are just as good as they remembered."
Mary Demetroulis nodded her head in agreement.
"When people come to George's, they become a part of our family," she said. "Customers come back because we treat you like family."
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