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Food Truck Offers History and Hot Dogs

After every order, customers can hear these words—the translation: One hot dog, to go—shouted over blaring oldies music at Callahan's, a food truck that takes a step back in time to serve up a good old American hot dog.

Reborn on wheels in April, Callahan's was a northern New Jersey staple for more than 50 years. Owner Dan DeMiglio's family closed the restaurant in 2006 after a bank purchased the plot in Fort Lee, N.J., where the restaurant sat. Mr. DeMiglio made a promise to his grandfather, who founded Callahan's in 1950, that he would bring the restaurant back someday.

"My grandpa wanted to bring smiles and easy living," said Mr. DeMiglio, who wears his grandfather's dog tags from World War II. "I take pride in bringing my grandpa's dream back."

Mr. DeMiglio said he wanted the yellow-and-red truck to be a true representation of the original restaurant. Along with a constant stream of oldies music by the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Temptations, Callahan's is decorated with vintage tin signs and there's an old-fashioned pushcart for condiments. A bottle opener is also fastened on the side of the truck for glass-bottle beverages like Yoo-Hoo.

Callahan's "is more than a hot dog. It's an American feeling, a nostalgic look back," Mr. DeMiglio said.

The deep-fried hot dogs are a pork-and-beef blend in a natural skin casing. The original is a quarter-pound ($3.50), and the restaurant offers junior and super sizes as well ($2.75/$5.75). Toppings (75 cents each) include chili, cheese, onions and sauce, and sauerkraut; condiments are complimentary.

Mr. DeMiglio said the reaction from customers has been "unbelievable."

"People thank me for bringing back their childhood," he said.

Orders for Callahan's T-shirts have come from as far as Alaska, and the Callahan's Facebook page has over 10,000 likes.

"The goal is to get a store front," Mr. DeMiglio said, "But people came to us for 50 years so now I want to go to them."