Often described as a "Tampa institution," Mel's Hot Dogs on Busch Boulevard is celebrating 40 years in business.
When he wasn't behind the counter, Mel Lohn offered complimentary hot dog themed cupcakes provided by neighboring business Cupcake Cache to customers lined up to the door during the lunch rush on Wednesday. "Here we are, having a wienerful time, Lohn said. "No bun intended."
"They're my friends," Lohn says — the vast majority of his customers are regulars. "There the ones like Hot-Rod Lou who comes in a couple times a week and then there's those that come in once every two years, but they're regulars."
Lohn and his wife, Virginia, who Mel insists is the reason for the restaurant's success, opened Mel's on July 3, 1973. "Without her, I am certain that I would not have survived this long — in life and in the restaurant business."