If you’re driving on Route 28 in Ulster County between, say, Mt. Tremper and Phoenicia, and are hungry for a tasty little lunch or snack, you can’t do better than Captain Hot Dog in the rest area at Mt. Pleasant. You’ll get an authentic Sabrett’s hot dog with your choice of at least half a dozen fixins’–everything from the usual mustard and ketchup to authentic New York-style onion sauce. And of course, drinks and the usual “sides” such as potato chips. But best of all, you’ll have the great pleasure of meeting proprietor Captain Tom.
Captain Tom is a genuine people person. Having worked that spot for fifteen years, he has an impressive array of regular customers and a Canon point-and-shoot camera with which he takes photographs of them to save in his albums. When I pulled into the crowded rest area on Sunday and ordered my hot dog with mustard and relish (“That’s a must-rel,” he explained), I explained about my blog and asked if I might take his photograph. He posed gladly–and then asked if he could get a photo with the two of us. Fetching the little Canon from his car, he handed it to a friend standing nearby–clearly a long-time customer–and asked him to take the photo. That very evening, the photo was in my email Inbox.
Then Captain Tom showed me his current album–photos of customers from 2012. “Your photo will be in there,” he promised. He knew which customers had recently passed away, pointed out one couple that had recently married, and mentioned that he keeps a special album with photos of deceased customers.
That particular stretch of Route 28 isn’t exactly bursting with dining opportunities–I had joined the road at the junction with Route 212 at Mt. Tremper and was headed west to Margaretville–and so to come upon Captain Tom who loves his work and takes such a genuine personal interest in the customers he meets was a double blessing and an unusual one.
Hungry for a hot dog on Route 28? The Captain Hot Dog stand is on the north (westbound) side of Route 28 at the Mt. Pleasant Rest Area. It’s well sign-posted from both directions. Captain Tom’s business card invites you to “Join us for lunch on the Esopus stream.” You’ll be glad you did.