Driving along Route 46, a tree shaded, two lane highway in northern New Jersey, if hunger strikes at the last minute, look no further than the small town of Buttzville. Take care, though, one blink and you might miss it. The town runs parallel to the Pequest River known by locals for its excellent trout fishing. Once there, people are immediately struck by how really small the town is with its handful of narrow side streets right off the highway that lead to quaint, residential homes and farms. (Thanks for visiting Buttzville!) But wait, wasn’t there something about satisfying that growling stomach?
Just keep driving and pass the former local post office–a small, white house with dark blue tiles. The post office closed its doors permanently in late 2009. People used to depend on the post office as a landmark to orient themselves when driving through the region. The empty building still stands to let people know that just around the bend sits their destination-Hot Dog Johnny’s.
It is an international meeting place filled with locals, visitors from Pennsylvania, New York-even travelers from Canada have been found at Hot Dog Johnny’s . The green stand recalls memories of the old roadside stands that once dotted the American countryside. Dwindling in numbers today, roadside stands, like Hot Dog Johnny’s, are a testament to the strength of small town American culture.
What makes this particular stand so special that the parking lot is filled to capacity, tables never empty, and lines carry out to the street on a daily basis? Certainly, it is the food–hot dogs to die for with plump, juicy sausages and soft, moist bread that seem to melt in your mouth, leaving your taste buds exploding with flavor. And don’t forget to wash the tasty morsels down with freshly brewed birch beer that leaves the stomach tingling as it works its way down.
Also, it is the nostalgia of days long gone when times were simpler, hard work prevailed, and people appreciated simple fare and good company that draws people to Hot Dog Johnny’s. Traveling together, seeing the changing landscapes, and coming on a surprise road stand nestled in the country fosters feelings of appreciation of small town life in America. It is so easy to get caught up in the flash and dazzle of big cities, the convenience of fast food drive-thrus, and the fast-paced daily life that seems to be the norm in our country. Yet people still seek ways to connect back to what seemed a happier time when a small town, off a two lane highway offered the chance for them to stop, meet new people, and eat simple, yet delicious food.
Hot Dog Johnny’s is located at the intersection of Routes 46 and 31 in Warren Country, New Jersey. It is open seven days a week from 9am to 10 pm.