Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mr. Sol's Neighborhood

This week we paid a visit to the neighborhood where we grew up. Yes, there is a hot dog stand in Norwood. This was a fascinating journey for Robert and I on many levels. Sol's Hot Dogs on 12th Avenue North at 30th Street is just 3 blocks away from where we spent our early years. Our family moved away from Norwood in 1966 when our house was purchased to make way for I-20/59. Through the years there have been many changes in the neighborhood.

One good change was when Sol's Hot Dogs opened about 5 years after we moved away. Sol's has been there for 39 years and has a loyal following. A not-so-good change in the neighborhood is the appearance of many burglar bars on the store windows. When we drove into Norwood to visit Sol's there was a definite feeling that we had entered "the hood". We quickly learned to put those feelings aside. I would encourage the reader to try Sol's, especially if the neighborhood is one you might not get into very often.

Sol's is a good hot dog stand serving their own unique dogs. The hot dogs are served hot with generous servings of the desired toppings and/or sauce. Their special sauce is unique; it has a slightly sweet flavor somewhat like Gus's downtown but different. The chili on the chili dogs is real chili with a good flavor. All in all our lunch was very good.

When we were ordering Robert asked the guy at the cash register if he was Sol. We found out he is Sol's step-son, Johnny. After a few more questions Johnnie introduced us to his mother, Mrs. Sol (Donna Zarzur) who sat with us as we ate our lunch. We learned a great deal from her. Sol is getting up in the years and is not as active in the business as he once was; so Sol's is managed by Johnnie today. We learned that they have a key employee, Melvina, commanding the cooking area daily; she has been there for 28 years. She is a valued employee that they would never want to do without.
This is just part of the menu which includes foot-long versions of all the dogs as well as other sandwiches and a variety of specials.

Despite the uninviting burglar bars, we were told that in 39 years there has only been one robbery at Sol's. We observed a congenial mix of people dining there. Donna told us of their loyal customer base who continue to come back. This was confirmed when we met the guy at the next table. He grew up, like us, just a few blocks from Sol's and is now a CPA living in Atlanta. He took the opportunity of working in Birmingham a for few days to eat lunch at Sol's again.

How did we end up meeting other customers? We like to photograph the food before we start eating; but totally forgot when Donna sat down and joined us. We had finished but still wanted some pictures; so we asked some of the other diners if we could shoot their food. Guess you have to admit we have guts. Below we have a slaw dog, part of a hamburger and some fries that a new friend let me photograph.
One last note; they are having an anniversary celebration next week starting on Monday August 2nd. If you read this in time stop in and join the fun and special offers. They have put a lot of planning into the celebration.