Syd's Hot Dogs: History of a Weequahic Landmark

by Nat Bodian


After seeing comments on Syd's Weequahic-area hot-doggery on the Old Newark "Guestbook" I recalled that sometime back I was given a history of the place.

For those from the Weequahic area in the 1940s and 1950s, who, like myself, had patronized Syd's in its earlier years, I have updated and expanded that history of this once-popular Weequahic landmark, in hopes that it will revive old memories for others.

Syd's Beginning

In 1941, Syd Goldstein, whose family was in the dairy business in Bayonne, bought a small restaurant at 340 Chancellor Avenue between Summit Avenue and Hobson Street, near Weequahic High School.

He renamed it "Syd's" and introduced a menu that featured hot dogs and hamburgers, but also included Rolled Beef, Ham, Cheese Sandwiches, Tuna and Egg Salad, and Potato and Kasha Knishes.

Prices of Hot Dogs

Earlier in 1941, you could buy a hot dog at Syd's in two sizes: three cents or six cents.

Near the end of 1941 after the start of World War II, the three cent hot dog was dropped. The price of the larger hot dog was raised to ten cents.

When the woman who supplied Syd's with knishes died in 1942, Goldstein replaced them on his menu with "Syd's Homemade French Fries," and they became an instant hit with many patrons.

Syd Sells Syd's

In 1947 Syd Goldstein sold his popular Weequahic luncheonette to Mort Bratter. He continued with the original Syd's menu1 until 1957 when he sold to Mort Kaufman and Eddie Rose.

During the Bratter era of Syd's ownership, in the early 1950s, Elliott Sudler reminded me, you were likely to find Philip, Jack, or Bernie at Syd's. It was their favorite neighborhood hang-out.

"Philip" was Philip Roth, who would later become a famous novelist and two-time winner of the National Book Award.

"Jack" was Jack Kirsten, who would later become a notable and widely and highly-regarded Essex County Superior Court judge.

"Bernie" was Bernie Marcus who would later found the 2,000+ store chain, "Home Depot" with more than 50 billion dollars in annual sales.

Sara Friedman Fishkin (Weequahic 1960) recalled to me her visits to Syd's in that era to satisfy her passion for "those french fries, well done, in small brown bags, with wooden forks."

Bratter operated Syd's restaurant until 1960 when he sold it to David Aranow.

Aranow had previously owned "Hot Dog Haven" just two blocks up Chancellor Avenue. He subsequently dropped the name "Syd's" and replaced it with the name of his former Chancellor Avenue eatery "Hot Dog Haven," which by this time had been renamed the "Bunny Hop."

Syd's Name is Revived

The Syd's name was dormant until 1967 when it was revived by Lenny and Betty Weiss when they opened their restaurant at its present location in Millburn Mall at 2933 Vauxhall Road in Union at Millburn Avenue.

In 1996, the Weiss's sold their revived "Syd's" eating establishment in Vauxhall, Union, to Robert and Beth Grossman. The Grossmans had been longtime Syd's customers.

Current Syd's Owners

In September 2003, Syd's once again underwent a change of ownership when the establishment was purchased by a father and son, Arie and Eric Niederman. Arie is a 1965 graduate of Weequahic High School. Son Eric formerly managed a restaurant in Fanwood--The Chippery.

Today's Menu

Today's menu at Syd's has seen many changes from the original Syd's on Chancellor Avenue, but the Hot Dog and Hamburger remain the major attractions that continue to bring in the customers, even from distant places.

Owner Eric Niederman informed me for this "Memory" that today's Hot Dog at Syd's is $3.10, and the Hamburger is $3.45.

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Online Reviews of the Current Syd's

The website, which ranks New Jersey hot dogs, made this comment: " Many say Syd's serves the best dogs in Jersey. While the Rutt Hutt fires their dogs, Syd's takes a foot-long all beef dog and char grills it."

The website has this to say: "A big 5 to a lb. dog is sold at Syd's in Union. This is the place to go for the best all beef dog in the east, and perhaps the country."

Chowhound's Tristate Region Message Board on subject " Best hot dog joints in Jersey" said "I like Syd's the best. You must try them! ... They are big (5 to a lb.) use Best all-beef kosher style franks with natural casing. Even better than Max's and Windmill."

Munchmobile Forum on said: "About the best hot dog ... my favorite all-grilled beef is Syd's in Union."


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