By Don Wilno
Does the Fourth of July begin the dog days of summer?
Not so, says Madeline Maybaum. She believes summer begins when you’ve had a hot dog, especially one from Max’s of Long Branch, where she is an owner.
At the world famous Max’s, Celia Maybaum, now 93, worked until only recently, selling hundreds of hot dogs as the legendary Mrs. Max.
Once on the boardwalk, Max’s moved to its current location at 25 Ocean Blvd. on Dec. 15, 1984, a few years before the Long Branch pier was destroyed by fire.
Mrs. Max sold hot dogs to the rich and famous, and to celebrities of all walks of life. She also served the most religious – Cardinal John O’Connor, and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan from the Archdiocese of New York.
Now five or so family members work at Max’s where Mrs. Max worked the cash register.
‘‘We’re very family oriented, very friendly, which is very important,” Mrs. Max’s daughter, Madeline Maybaum, said.
Mrs. Max would have it no other way.
Mrs. Max, an icon in the hot dog business, served hot dogs to governors and was honored by governors Brendan T. Byrne, James Florio, and Christine Todd Whitman. She also was honored by state Secretary of State Joan Haberle.
Although she has countless honors, Mrs. Max is best known for serving quarter-pound Shickhaus National Casing Griddle Franks ($4.50).
On a recent afternoon, Tom and Sharon Sciro were enjoying a hot dog the way they like it.
Hot dogs are dressed in sauerkraut, covered with sweet green relish, spicy relish, mustard, chili or cheese. It’s your choice.
Sharon said her husband ‘’will travel miles for a good hot dog,” but Max’s is their favorite.
Tom Sciro concurred. A personal favorite is sweet green relish with raw onions. Don’t overcook the hot dog, thank you very much.
Madeline Maybaum isn’t concerned about the weather during the summer season. It is what it is.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or raining, Max’s will have a big crowd,” she said.
Ask how big a crowd will impact how many hot dogs will be served in any one day or holiday weekend gets you the same response. It’s an unknown, or no one will tell you.
As for how many they serve ‘’millions” is the answer and no one debates that figure.
The same goes for Gary Sable, who owns That Hot Dog Place in Red Bank.
He sells hot dogs and lots of soup in his one-man “hole in the wall.”
He went into business after seeing a “For Sale” sign at 30 Monmouth St. He sold his Triangle Café in Perth Amboy and went into the hot dog business 17 years ago.
Sable runs the business by himself, in a very, very, very smallish shop. ‘’It’s perfect for me,” he said. ‘’I love it and the people who come in, they are entertaining folk.”
His hot dogs come in two sizes – a $3.75 grilled Boars Head frank and a $2.25 boiled Sabrett he refers to as a ‘’dirty water dog.” Everyone has had a dirty water dog in their lifetime.
He also created his own ‘’Junkyard Dog” covered in mustard, coleslaw, sweet relish, hot relish and chopped onions. But you can dress it up any way you want.
“I had one customer put mayonnaise on his hot dog,” Sable said.
His lunches draw a line of customers. Maybe two can fit inside his shop, the others form a long line outside. And, his patrons will wait to be served.
Rooney, who admits to being almost 80, has a hot dog cart at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Surf Street in Sea Bright. Like Mrs. Max, she is legendary in the business, taking up at her current location in 1965, then working it alone since 1977.
With only an umbrella over her head, she’s at the mercy of the weather.
Her business “varies,” she said.
“It’s all about the weather,” she said. “It’s all about the weather.”
Her $1.75 Sabrett All-Beef hot dogs are very tasty and she always serves them with a smile, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Everyone in town knows her.
At the first original Windmill in Long Branch, manager Mike Nolan is always prepared to serve his many customers.
At $4.29 per hot dog, Nolan, who has worked at the Windmill 20-plus years, could sell as many as 1,000 hot dogs on a real busy holiday weekend.
‘’It could get nuts in here,” Nolan said, but he and his staff are ready to serve customers.
He may have as many six workers behind the counter, which doesn’t give you much room.
“Not a problem,” Nolan said.