Tony Dobrowolski | Out of the Pages: The joy of hot dogs

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PITTSFIELD — February is the shortest month of the year, but it often feels like the longest because this is when the cold winter weather just seems to linger and linger and linger.

Thoughts often turn towards warmer weather at this time of the year, and part of the joy of summer is eating hot dogs. Franks are big draws everywhere, but one such eatery in the Berkshires has received special recognition by being named one of the best hot dog stands in New England by Yankee Magazine.

Jack's Hot Dog Stand in North Adams is one of 12 similar venues throughout New England that were put on the list by Yankee contributor Mike Urban who made his selections after embarking on a "hot dog safari" according to the magazine.

The link to the story about Jack's that was recently sent to me has Jan. 25 as the date the list was launched, but there are comments on the site from much earlier. In 2018, Jack's was listed as having the best hot dog in the state in Yankee Magazine's Editor's Choice Best of Massachusetts rankings.

Jack's owner Jeff Levanos isn't sure when his business was placed on the Best of New England list either, but he's glad that his eatery was included.

"It's a big deal no matter whose business it is," said Levanos, the third generation owner of this family-owned business that his grandfather, Jack, started in 1917.

"My family's owned this for 102 years and so many people have come through here — North Adams State, MCLA, Williams and Buxton (School) graduates," he said. "So our name has kind of gone all over the globe."

Jack's has been around so long that some graduates who return to the area for reunions are stopping by with "the great grand kids," Levanos said.

"I don't know if it's that the hot dogs are so great or if it's just the nostalgia," said Levanos, who took over the operation of Jack's from his father, John, in the mid-1980s (his father took over the business from his grandfather, who emigrated to the U.S. from Greece, in the 1940s). "It's the only place in North Adams where guys and women remember coming as young people. There is a lot of nostalgia to it. It's just a small hole-in-the-wall place."

Jack's has been located at 12 Eagle St. for so long that Levanos said, "nobody can remember what was here" before.

Of the 12 hot dog stands listed, only three are located in Massachusetts, with the other two in Attleboro and Fall River. Berkshire County has several restaurants where the main item is hot dogs, and judging from the comments on Yankee Magazine's website, they have customers who are extremely loyal aficionados.

Teo's and the Hot Dog Ranch, both in Pittsfield, and the former Dopey's in Lanesborough, now Bob's Country's Kitchen, are mentioned as having good hot dogs in the comments, along with Whorle's Foods in Pittsfield.

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"Would have been nice to know what places did not make the list," wrote one reader.

Now you know.

Some other business notes from around the Berkshires:

PATHLIGHT MOVES TO BIGGER SPACE

Pathlight, a regional organization that supports people with developmental disabilities and provides services for those with autism throughout Western Massachusetts, has moved its Pittsfield office from North Street to a bigger location at the Clock Tower Business Center at 75 S. Church St.

The move, which occurred Feb. 21, will allow Pathlight to better support its programs in the Berkshires. Pathlight's Autism Connections as well as its Shared Living and Adult Foster Care programs are growing in response to community demand.

Autism Connections offers workshops, social skills groups and support groups, as well as recreation opportunities to people with autism and their caregivers. The program's autism specialists also work individually with families in their homes.

The new office space features a large activity room, several meeting rooms and a kitchen. The space will host community activities including education workshops on a host of issues, social skills groups for people with autism, and support groups for families caring for a person with autism.

In the future, Pathlight plans to offer recreational and performing arts classes for children and teens of all abilities. Pathlight will host an open house at the new space later in the spring. The agency's phone number remains the same at 413-443-4780.

MASS MoCA HONORED

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art was recently selected to receive this year's Buildy Award from the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums for its renovation of the Robert W. Wilson Building, more commonly known as Building 6. Mass MoCA's founding director, Joseph Thompson, will accept the award March 1 at the Building MuseumsTM Symposium in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Building 6 at Mass MoCA marks the third and near-final transformation of the 28-building, 19th-century factory site in North Adams that formerly housed Sprague Electric.

Tony Dobrowolski is the business editor of The Berkshire Eagle. He can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com.


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