The heir to one local culinary dynasty has officially turned over the keys to a restaurant that his grandfather founded in Burlington nearly a century ago.
Zack Touloupas, the third-generation proprietor of Zack’s Hot Dogs, formally signed over the deed to the family-owned eatery on Tuesday – transferring the business to a limited liability corporation affiliated with Burlington businessman John H. Burton.
Within a day of the deed’s transfer, the restaurant was already up and running under Burton’s hand-chosen manager, who the new owner has identified to The Alamance News as his son-in-law Phillip Snyder.
Burton added that, based on the reports he has so far received, the restaurant’s operations have remained as smooth as ever with his son-in-law behind the counter.
“I haven’t been there today,” Burton acknowledged in a conversation on Wednesday. “But Phillip is there, and everything is good.”
Touloupas and his wife Sheila had originally revealed their plans to sell Zack’s Hot Dogs in a brief post that appeared on the restaurant’s Facebook page roughly a week and a half ago.
“Beginning June 1, the restaurant will change ownership,” the couple note in their post. “We will be here to help make this transition run as smoothly as possible. We ask that you support the new owners as we hope Zack’s will continue to serve for many years to come.”
The couple’s post, which didn’t reveal the identity of the eatery’s new owners, nevertheless spelled the end of a multigenerational saga that began in a modest Burlington storefront some 94 years ago.
According to the restaurant’s website, Zack’s Hot Dogs was founded by the current proprietor’s grandfather and namesake, who immigrated to the U.S. from Greece in 1912.
A decade and a half later, Touloupas was working at a Durham café when he learned of an exciting business opportunity through the “Greek Grapevine,” which led to his purchase of a Burlington eatery called Alamance Hot Wienie Lunch in 1928.
Touloupas initially ran the restaurant at the corner of Worth and Front Streets – with a meager seating capacity of eight barstools and four schoolhouse desks that had been repurposed as tables. The eatery eventually expanded to 44 seats as it attracted more customers, who had begun to informally refer to the downtown lunch counter as “Zack’s Hot Dogs.”
The restaurant continued to operate along Front Street until 1978 when the current owner’s father, John Z. Touloupas, reopened the business at its present location at the northwest corner of West Davis and Worth Streets. County tax records indicate that Touloupas’ son and his wife Sheila acquired the property in 1994, and they remained the owners of record until Tuesday.
That afternoon, the office of Alamance County’s register of deeds received documents detailing the transfer of Zack’s Hot Dogs to “201 West Davis,” a limited liability corporation that’s connected to Burton. The restaurant’s new owner apparently purchased the property for $300,000 – based on the amount of excise tax assessed on the transfer.
During his conversation with The Alamance News, Burton acknowledged that he had yet to drop by for a hotdog since he officially became the new owner of Zack’s on Tuesday.
“I’ve been under the weather,” Burton acknowledged on Wednesday afternoon. “But I will have my first hotdog as owner tomorrow.”