The heir to one local culinary dynasty has decided to turn 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, has announced the impending sale of the family-owned eatery, which has been a landmark in Burlington’s downtown business district ever since 1928.
Touloupas and his wife Sheila formally revealed their plans for the business on Saturday in a brief post that appeared on the restaurant’s Facebook page early that morning.
“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.”
Although the restaurant may, indeed, flourish under its new owners, its forthcoming sale nevertheless marks 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.
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 northeastern corner of West Davis and Worth Streets. County tax records indicate that John Zacharias Touloupas and his wife Sheila acquired the property in 1994 and have remained the owners of record ever since.