Cupid’s Hot Dogs hits the bullseye for California fast food nostalgia


Los Angelenos, as Billy Joel wrote, all come from somewhere.

The same could be said for many Orlando residents, who also come here to live in the sun.

Sorot “Boyd” Chamlongsupalak is one of them.

Although born in Thailand, Chamlongsupalak grew up in the UK, so it’s no surprise that three years in the heat of the City Beautiful turned him into something of an ambassador.

“I love Florida so much!” he says. “I really feel at home here.”

The wife, Chira, was also a baby born in Thailand, but as a teenager, Chira’s family moved to Pasadena, California. The arid weather had its undeniable charms, but it specifically impressed on what, in the 1980s, was a staple of the San Gabriel Valley: Cupid’s Hot Dogs. In particular, the chili-cheese.

The fluffy roll. Vienna’s lively dog. This signature chili. She was addicted.

The same goes for her fellow Angelenos, who have made spontaneous U-turns on the reg since she and her husband opened Cupid’s first East Coast outpost on Lee Road in March, where her iconic heart-shaped panel dominates.

“Not a week goes by that we don’t have at least five or ten customers saying, ‘I had that when I was a kid!’ They must stop. »

And then they come back. Often, like the people of Los Angeles, with their children or grandchildren. Wonders of Chamlongsupalak.

“It’s not a big brand,” he notes. “There are only a few branches. But people recognize it instantly and we got lots of compliments. Customers are so surprised and happy.

Growing up, Chamlongsupalak was a fish and chip guy, but since opening, he too has been hit by Cupid’s arrow.

“I now eat chili dogs every other day,” he says.

I had never had Cupid before, but I understand why.

It’s an incredibly simple product. The menu has barely changed in 75 years. But of the dogs sampled on my pop-in, Cupid’s chili dog was an undeniably likable new find.

I opted for the spicy option ($4.75; basket and combo upgrades available), which imbues its ground beef with a gentle heat that beautifully complements the savory smack of the all-beef Viennese hot dog. The chopped onion adds another layer of texture. It’s not rocket science. But the chilli makes it really unique.

There was a small family stand in Oyster Bay, Long Island, which I visited often in the early 80s. Hot dogs and homemade Italian ice cream in three flavors: lemon, orange and chocolate. You sometimes found seeds in the first one. And this place – albeit housed in a relatively cavernous old Taco Bell – gave me the exact same feeling.

It’s no surprise that when the Chamlongsupalaks – who met in Thailand – moved to the United States and began to think about what to serve in this newly acquired place, “Cupid immediately came out of Chira’s head,” her husband said. “Within about a week, we were flying out to talk to the Walsh sisters.”

Kelly and Morgan Walsh are the third generation operators of Cupidwhich their grandparents founded in 1946.

“I went to the store with my dad on weekends when I was in elementary school,” Kelly Walsh told the Orlando Sentinel. “We were going out, eating a hot dog, hanging out with the employees — kind of like my four-year-old is doing right now.”

The sisters grew up and worked in the family business, but didn’t consider running the show until their father passed away, somewhat suddenly, in 2009.

“It was time to make a decision,” says Walsh. “Sell it? Shut it down? Hire someone else to run it? Or just figure it out. And so that’s what we decided to do. Cupid was such a big thing in so many people’s memory. here in the valley, it’s a tradition, and we didn’t want to miss that.

Their father had tried his hand at Cupid’s license years ago, but the practice had dwindled.

“We want to develop the brand, but we don’t have the time or the resources to do it personally. We had contacts over the years, but they didn’t fit very well,” says Walsh. “When we met Boyd and his family, we really loved them. His wife grew up here and their vision, drive and enthusiasm for opening a Cupid’s was infectious.

Slowly but surely, Chamlongsupalak might say.

It’s his first foray into fast food, but he’s no stranger to the whole industry. Back in Thailand, he culminated a restaurant experience with gigs at RJ Nabisco and a position as sales/marketing director for LVMH (Moët & Chandon and Dom Pérignon) before launching the very first food delivery service in Thailand. Thailand, then called Room Service. It has since been renamed ChefsXP.

As of press time, Cupid’s Orlando was set to move to more intimate delivery — through its drive-thru — which was set to open June 15 and will extend the venue’s hours. Customers look forward to the ease, whether they’re scratching the chili dog itch, or one for the salad dogs (the sweet variety made with mayonnaise), the Reuben dog (cheese and sauerkraut) or a fairly satisfying style version Chicago.

The Walshes added it to Cali menus about five years ago with great success.

“We just wanted something a little lighter. We get everything from Vienna – we wanted it to be as faithful to Chicago as possible.

You won’t find the poppy seed roll, but everything else is on point. I’m sticking with this beefy chili dog, though, alongside the onion rings. I prefer mine without the sauce, but the Chamlongsupalaks recently created a dip just for the rings – a little sweet with a hint of spice. They floated trial balloons – with input from the Walshes – and saw what sticks.

When they do, you might just find places around Orlando. Chamlongsupalak hopes to open several – possibly purpose-built – and sees the east side of town, near UCF, as the next target. In the meantime, Lee Road will bring more of Cupid’s Cali culture to the mix, with car hops – the Walsh sisters roller-skated at home in the valley for their clients during COVID – and weekly in-car get-togethers with classics and specific clubs, family events for a brand with an epic family history, but one that is rooted in the vibe of the neighborhood.

“The vibrancy of the California locations is what we’re looking to bring here,” says Chamlongsupalak.

Want to reach out? Find me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @amydroo or on the OSFoodie Instagram account @orlando.foodie. E-mail: [email protected]. For more fun, join the Let’s Eat, Orlando Facebook Group or follow @fun.things.orlando on instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


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