A 19-year-old Crestwood High School graduate is the new owner of Abe’s Hot Dogs.
Jordan Kotowski started working at the former Luigi’s Italian Ristorante –now Adelina’s Restaurant and Pizzeria –when he was 15. He regularly worked two or three jobs at a time during high school.
He always wanted to own his own business but didn’t expect the opportunity to come so soon. When he learned through his parents that Abe’s was about to be sold, he saw his chance.
His main goal is to keep up the Abe’s tradition, given that the hot dog stand has operated in Mountain Top since 1924.
“If it’s not broken, why fix it?” he said.
Sandy Weitoish, the former Abe’s manager and a Mountain Top resident, urged Jordan to retain the hometown character of the shop.
“Don’t make it a crazy fast food place,” she told him. “Treat it like your family members. I’m passing on my baby to you –just make sure you take care of it.”
Accordingly, Jordan has made only a few small changes. His parents, Jay and Gina, have been helping him paint and clean the restaurant for a bit of a facelift, and the newly resurrected Mountain Top Historical Society donated old photos of Mountain Top to decorate the dining room.
He has added one menu item, “Comet Chips” –deep-fried potato chips with a seasoning blend. He named the chips, of course, for his alma mater’s mascot as a way to honor his high school and the many students who stop in for hot dogs after school or sporting events.
Jordan’s purchase of the shop became official on Jan. 29. He’ll hold a grand reopening celebration with $1 hot dogs on Saturday, Feb. 10, with a ribbon cutting at 3 p. m.
The former owner, Gary Parks, decided to sell the shop when Sandy decided that even though she loved Abe’s, she wanted to cut back on working so much.
She got to know everyone who came in: “If I didn’t know their name, I knew what they ate,” she said. “But I have grandkids now. It’s time to relax and enjoy life.”
Sandy is confident that Jordan will bring a fresh perspective and enthusiasm to the historic shop.
Jordan has lived all of his 19 years in Mountain Top, and he graduated from Crestwood in 2017. Ironically, he didn’t eat at Abe’s often when he was growing up.
“I wasn’t big on eating out,” he said. “I was saving my money for my future.”
But working in the restaurant business gave him a love for it. So did, of all things, “SpongeBob,” which he grew up watching.
“I saw him flipping burgers on a grill, and it taught me the importance of having a job where you can have fun,” Jordan said, noting he wanted a job where he could make others happy.
He’s already looking forward to hosting the restaurant’s first hot dog eating contest on July 3. The winner will be able to make a donation to his or her favorite charity.
And he intends to keep one of the shop’s main attractions: the “pay-it-forward wall” bedecked with post-it notes showing meal orders that kindhearted customers have paid ahead. A hungry person who doesn’t have enough money can come in, grab a post-it off the wall for whatever they want, and get their order free of charge. That’s another