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February 14, 2018

Woody's closing iconic Hartford hotdog joint

PHOTO | Steve Laschever Woody's most popular hot dogs are usually smothered with cheddar cheese sauce. The couple is closing the eatery soon but may open a catering business or operate a food truck.

The iconic Woody's hot dog joint in downtown Hartford is closing, but the eatery could be reincarnated into a catering or food truck business, the owners say.

Business owners Gary and Cindy Wood said Wednesday they are negotiating with their landlord at 915 Main St. to stay open through March 17, but if that cannot be arranged, they will serve their famous hot dogs and fixings for the last time out of that location on Feb. 28.

"It's been a long 41 years," said Gary Wood, 65, who had to grapple with diabetes and recently, double hip replacement. He put his wife, Cindy, 64, on the phone so he could tend to customers.

Despite the need to unwind the downtown business, Cindy Wood, herself a cancer survivor, said the married couple is investigating the possibility of setting up a catering business or buying a food truck.

HBJ first reported last year on the Woody’s consideration of a food truck business.

"We have to work; we're not wealthy," she said.

Acknowledging the city of Hartford has been struggling for some time, she noted, "We're not getting the business traffic we used to get."

It is challenging, she said, when thousands of customers are nearby at facilities like Dunkin' Donuts Park, where the Hartford Yard Goats this spring will enter their second season, or at the XL Center, but their captive audiences are not likely to swing by and eat at Woody's.

"We're five minutes away, but we might as well be in another state," she said. "You need to get people to come into downtown in creative ways to make people want to come in and walk around the city of Hartford and love it again."

The couple also needs to "take a little bit of time for ourselves," she added. "We haven't been on a vacation in more than 10 years, not even a stay-at-home vacation."

Noting that they both love what they do, Cindy Wood said she would advise customers to "stay tuned and keep your eye out for us. Gary and I can't express enough from the bottom of our hearts how we came to love and appreciate so many of our customers."

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