Artie Berke, owner of , has added hot dogs to his resume as the new owner of in Northport.
Berke took over the store in June from previous owner Marc Soojian. Soojian, a Kings Park doctor, in the hope of continuing his great grandfather's legacy which began with the first Kasper's in Oakland, California in 1929. He approached Berke around Father's Day after losing his store manager and becoming overwhelmed.
"He just wanted to get out and get rid of everything and I thought that's sad because it was his grandfather's business and I suggested we do something together," said Berke. "He came back to me and said why don't you take over the store and we'll set up a franchise basically and go from there. He was excited about doing a franchise."
Berke to revamp Kasper's and reopened with new additions to the menu, a toppings bar, a panini press, gourmet glass bottle soda, a new "split-top" bun, and more. They also lowered the price of a basic hot dog by almost a dollar.
One thing that didn't change was the hot dog. Ninety percent of participants in a taste test chose the original Kasper's dog among five choices. "I was surprised because I thought kids might not like the smokey flavor," said Berke.
A variety of hot dog topping combinations, salads, and paninis are now available at Kaspers as well as a make-your-own option. To honor the original homestead of Kasper's, Berke brought in flavors from California such as the "Nacho" dog with cheese, jalepenos, pico de gallo and sour cream and the "Wazilla" with Asian slaw, crispy wanton, wasabi cream, and teriyaki.
Don't expect any pizza any time soon. Berke is keeping his two endeavors very separate, a feat which he knows will require a ton of work but will pay off. "This sort of thing revitalizes me, it makes me go," he said.