Master hot dog purveyor passes down trade secrets

As part of the Folklife Apprenticeship Program, Joey Mirabile (right) taught apprentice Logan Caine most of what he knows about life in the hot dog business. Photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program As part of the Folklife Apprenticeship Program, Joey Mirabile (right) taught apprentice Logan Caine most of what he knows about life in the hot dog business. Photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program

Joey Mirabile has been around hot dogs his entire life. His father, Tony, served them at Bacali’s Hot Dogs in Norfolk during World War II and even fed celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. when they were in town to perform. Tony and his wife, Geri, opened Tony’s Hot Dogs in Norfolk in 1962 and later added a second shop in Virginia Beach. Joey Mirabile now has his own shop in Richmond’s West End, where hot dogs can be topped with mustard, onions and chili—no ketchup or chips—just as Tony made ’em, secret family chili recipe and all.

As part of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program that matches master artists with apprentices who want to learn a specific trade or craft, Mirabile, as a master hot dog purveyor, taught apprentice Logan Caine much of what he knows (but probably not that chili recipe).

Here are three things Mirabile has learned from life in the hot dog biz:

1. He’s in the people business—the delicious hot dogs are just a bonus.

2. A Chicago doctor once wrote about Joey’s Hot Dogs in a health article. “As I recall, he said tasting something he remembers from his childhood woke up memory sensors from long ago. In an older person, that can have a health effect of making one feel young again,” Mirabile says.

3. Nobody makes a better hot dog. “Our slogan is, ‘They Don’t Make ’Em Any Better,” Mirabile says. “One bite and we will make a believer out of you.”

See if Mirabile and Caine can make a believer out of you—and try some Brunswick stew, Liberian cuisine, fried apple pies and Virginia oysters while you’re at it—at the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship showcase May 7 at James Monroe’s Highland.

Flaming Wok extinguished

Chinese food, sushi and hibachi spot Flaming Wok & Teppan Yaki on Seminole Trail will close its doors on May 31. An employee confirmed the closing over the phone and said the restaurant will not relocate.

Juicy location

Two weeks ago, we reported that the Juice Laundry would open a location on the Corner this summer, and now we know where, exactly, thirsty coeds will get their juice fix: 1411 University Ave., the former location of the Natty Beau clothing store, between Qdoba and The White Spot. The new location will function as a grab-n-go juice and nuts milk bar and express smoothie location, says owner and founder Mike Keenan. The full Juice Laundry menu will be available on the Corner, but all juicing will be done at the Preston Avenue location.

Minus nine

Eleven Months, the spot for restaurant-bar pop-ups that replaced Yearbook Taco on the Downtown Mall earlier this year, has closed. The restaurant wrapped its first theme—“Sorry It’s Over”—after just two months. In the coming weeks, owner Hamooda Shami will focus on opening Eleven Months’ Richmond location (featuring a “Best Friends Forever” theme).

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