Charlie's Pool Room
I am on my own personal hot dog tour. So I had to go to Charlie's Pool Room in Alpha, NJ. The place should be renamed Charlie's Heavenly Hot Dogs, because that is what they are - heavenly. I had heard so much about the place that I had to take the 50 mile drive from Newark to see for myself. We walked in and Joe, at the register looked at me and said "I don't believe you've been here before" He was right. He seems to know every single person who has walked through his door in the last 40 years. We introduced ourselves and what seems like will be an everlasting friendship began. Joe took our order and wrote it down on a tiny slip of paper, which he promptly gave to his brother John in the kitchen. He invited us to sit as though he was inviting us in to his home to have dinner. (By the way, the table that seats only 5 people is in the back room next to the pool table) As we waited, he showed us countless articles that were written up on Charlie's Pool Room. We chatted about Baseball and Hot Dogs and other topics. Waiting 20 minutes for the hot dogs is not a difficult thing to do. Spending time talking to Joe is one of the most pleasant experiences you will have. And oh, when those hot dogs come, they are pipping hot and ABSOLUTELY the best hot dog you will ever have. Grandma Fencz famous secret sauce is unlike anything you have ever tasted. The dogs were so good that I had to take 5 to go (or on a leash, as Joe would say) because I knew we would want more the next day. I was right. The dogs were carefully wrapped in butcher paper, with the pickles in such a way that the juice wouldn't leak into the hot dog roll. The dogs were placed in a brown paper bag, with the flap carefully folded and secured with a piece of masking tape. People just don't take the time to do these things so meticulously these days.
How often do you find someone who really enjoys the work they do. In this case, it is a true labor of love. An old world work ethic and and a true enjoyment of meeting the people that stop by to pay a visit.
After we finished our dogs, brother John came out of the kitchen to say hello. Another very nice man who was equally as friendly as Joe. All the way home I tried to determine if the hot dogs were really that great or did we love them because Joe and John were so nice and provided such a wonderfully warm experience. I have to say that it is a major part of both. Do yourself a favor and visit Charlie's Pool Room. Look it up on the internet and when you go be sure to have a GPS. The place is not easy to find. Treasures like these are not here forever. Get there while you still have the opportunity.