If the new hot dog stand on West Street looks familiar, there’s a reason.
Retired city firefighter James Miles has bought the former Big Lenny’s trailer, rechristened it “Jimmo’s Meat & Greet” and set up shop in the parking lot near the intersection with Meadow Street.
“I’ve always enjoyed cooking,” Miles said. “It’s been in the back of my mind for quite a while. ... I searched the web for a food truck and right in front of me was Big Lenny’s cart. ... The opportunity came and I jumped on it.”
Lenny Montuori operated the cart for years before taking up a storefront on Merchants Row — though he hasn’t opened it in some time because of health problems. Miles said Montuori gave him plenty of advice and even attended the cart’s opening day. The look of the cart — the color scheme and most of the lettering — remains the same.
“The only thing he took off was his name,” Miles said. “I never thought about changing everything. Eventually, I’ll put my name on it. People do think it’s Big Lenny’s cart, because I cannot tell you how many people come in looking for Lenny.”
Miles said he had tossed around a few different food cart concepts during his initial daydreaming, but the cart isn’t set up for much other than hot dogs.
“It’s set up for a steam table — not a fryolater, not a grill,” he said. “I want to keep it simple. Everyone’s liking it. It’s a one-man show, and it’s fast.”
He did, however, set out to put his own spin on everything.
“The hot dogs are pretty plain unless you’ve got your own special sauces,” he said. “We’re working on it. My wife does her own sauerkraut. We make our own chili, our own horseradish mustard, our own red onion sauce. I wanted to do the sausage different. Everyone does sausage, onion and peppers. I slow cook mine in a pasta sauce — makes it nice and tender — throw it on a roll, top with provolone, add some pepperoni if they wanted it.”
The signature sausage is called a “Tenderizer” without the pepperoni. With it, it’s dubbed the “Jimmosocki” — a nickname for Miles, the origin of which he said is best not discussed in public.
Miles said he plans to operate from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Friday from May to October. He said he is getting good traffic, particularly during the lunch rush.
“I don’t have much to compare it to, but I’m happy with the result so far,” he said. “I’m seeing a lot of people I haven’t seen in a long time.”