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How a Lebanese butcher became the Hot Dog Man of Ohio!

We love the hot dogs at Clark Street Deli and they loved our hot dog art icon! We used "Bubblegum Sans" font on both sides of this fun pair of advertising sunglasses.

Ernie Clark came to this mid-Ohio farm town in the 1940s. The town was a farm town, where families settled in the 18th Century, worked the farms and turned the farms over inside the family. Relationships in the town spanned decades; some were good, others not so good. The people of the town resembled their European centric ancestors.

Ernie Clark left his native Lebanon as Abdel Hamra and settled in New York City. He worked for butchers on the banks of the Hudson River on Manhattan's west side for many years. Abdel was happy to be part of the excitement of New York but he wanted to breath his air differently. He packed his possessions into a suitcase and spent $8.00 on a bus out of New York to Western Pennsylvania. Abdel was not well received as he walked through that Pennsylvania town; he was dark skinned and spoke with a heavy Lebanese accent. He bought another $8.00 bus ticket and headed farther west.

Abdel thought he might receive better treatment if he had an American name. He chose "Ernie," the name of a fellow butcher left behind in New York. He asked the bus driver to let him off at the next town "in the country where the people are nice." Several hours later, the driver stopped the bus, leaned back and said to Ernie, "This is your stop. Good luck."

The town was in the middle of Ohio, clean and quiet. There was a quiet Main Street and six cross streets. After you passed the 6th street Main Street became a route number and headed off into farm country. At the other end of town, the same thing. He walked along Main Street, he thought the town did look nice. When he arrived at the Clark Street corner, the man sweeping the sidewalk outside his shop stopped and said, "Hello stranger. Can I help you find someone?" Ernie liked this man's smile and they began their conversation.

By the end of that day, Ernie had a job at the General Store on Clark Street, a room across the street above the shoe store and a brand new friend in Bob Jackson. Ernie took the last name of Clark, the transformation of Abdel Hamra, Lebanese butcher to Ernie Clark, Ohio hot dog man had begun.

In time, Ernie began to bring his favorite Lebanese spices to the general store and began to spice the beef and pork the store bought from the local farms. He fashioned a beef/pork/spice combination into an American hot dog, grilled it and wrapped it in a square piece of pita bread. His time in New York taught him to be bold and different. His hot dogs in square pita were a big hit.

Ernie Clark is gone but his Clark Street Deli hot dogs remain. A must-have stop for visitors and truckers passing through this quiet mid-Ohio farm town.

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