By following this link the mystified reader who has never heard of Flo’s Hot Dogs, will be visually introduced to arguably the best little steamed hot dog stand in the country. Sure the cars are old, but if you think you would be hard pressed to locate Flo’s as it is today, fear not. The establishment hasn’t changed one bit. Just look for the traffic jam along Route 1 in Cape Neddick, Maine.
Florence Stacy purchased the property in 1959. Flo was not the typical business woman, catering to persnickety patrons with the intent of luring them back time and time again. She served what she served and if you didn’t like it, tough. She ruled her roost with a hairnet, a housedress, an apron, and an iron fist. I don’t think any regular customer escaped being chastised by Flo at one time or another. That’s the chance you took every time you walked in.
Flo’s steamed hot dogs were well worth the potential scolding one might receive for any variety of reasons upon walking through that rickety front door, as they are to this day. There were rules to be followed, the first of which was to get the hell out of the doorway. In or out. Flo’s had a counter on the left with a couple of stools and the long narrow waiting area which comfortably held five or six people if they didn’t mind getting really friendly.
When ordering, the only relevance was the number of hot dogs, period. Any customer starting with “Three with hot sauce, two with….” was abruptly cut off. Flo handled the well-to-do snooty tourists with the same straight up attitude she bestowed upon the town hoodlums. She might not have known the visitors, but she knew the kids and their parents…and their grand parents. She was fearless, opinionated, and bossy. One quickly learned it was Flo’s way or the highway.
So what’s so special about Flo’s hot dogs, or Flo dogs as they are affectionately referred to? To begin with they are steamed, not fried or boiled. At the perfect moment they are taken from the steamer and slapped in a plain hot dog roll wrapped in a napkin. It is at this moment that requests for toppings are allowed. Choices are mustard, ketchup, relish, mayo, celery salt, and onions, in any combination.
So, again, what’s so special about Flo dogs? Did I mention the hot sauce? Flo’s hot sauce was a fiercely guarded secret for many of the early years, although it has since been marketed through several outlets. Maybe it’s just me, but the jarred sauce just does not compare to a freshly concocted sauce, so if by chance you have purchased some, reserve final judgment until you have personally visited Flo’s.
The sauce itself is a sweet and slightly pungent mix of onions, molasses, vinegar, and brown sugar, perfectly spiced with red pepper and hot sauce. I doubt that Flo ever made exactly the same way twice in a row, as some times it was dark, other days a lighter shade with a different consistency. Whatever the variation, Flo’s hot sauce was always a mouthwatering delight.
Flo’s still does not cater, in the current sense of the word, so if you’re expecting an experience in fine dining, don’t even think about Flo’s. If you’re taste buds are fired up for a snapping good steamed hot dog and the best hot sauce you have ever tasted, order up and have someone save you a seat at the picnic table outside. Never order just one. Even the most delicate eaters can wolf down at least three.
The business is now owned and operated by Flo’s son John, and her daughter-in-law Gail. Flo is stirring a potful of her world famous hot sauce in a better place, but her legacy lives on. If you’re ever in the area, ask someone dressed in flannel where Flo’s is. They’ll put you on Route 1 headin’ nawth. Flo’s is the trailah like shack on the right, by Mountain Road. Careful where ya pahk. It gets pretty busy theyah.