Thursday, January 23, 2014

"First in Schenectady to Serve You Hot Dogs:" The New Way Lunch

Local photographer John Papp captured this image of the New Way Lunch in October 1966, soon before the building was demolished and a new building was constructed. Image from John Papp Photograph Collection. 

For over half a century, a lunch spot on Albany Street operated by the Stathis family served up hot dogs to Schenectady's residents and visitors. According to John E. Stathis, son of the founder of New Way Lunch and the business' proprietor from the late 1940s through the mid-1970s, the New Way Lunch was established in 1919 by his father, Evangel Stathis, who immigrated to Schenectady from Greece.

This photograph shows the process of constructing the new New Way Lunch building at 705 Albany Street in Schenectady in December 1966. Image from John Papp Photograph Collection. 

The younger Stathis claimed that the New Way Lunch was the first business to serve hot dogs in the city of Schenectady, and the first to serve them with a special secret sauce. "My father-in-law glorified the hot dog," said Irene Stathis, wife of John E. Stathis, in a 1967 newspaper interview. "He became famous for his sauce. It was his own recipe and he handed it down to John. John is the only one who makes the sauce. He puts the ingredients in a bag and shakes them up. It's all very secret. But the one thing that is not secret is that the hot dog is king here."

Portion of an advertisement for the New Way Lunch in a 1957 Schenectady Gazette. The advertisement touts the business' hot dogs, meat sauce, and coffee. To promote their anniversary, New Way Lunch offered hot dogs for sale at their 1919 price of 5 cents each. Image obtained via

The New Way Lunch first appears in the 1920 city directory, at 704 Albany Street, with Evangel Stathis listed as the proprietor. The business soon moved to 710 Albany Street, where it remained for a number of years until relocating to 705 Albany Street around 1942. The New Way Lunch is not be be confused with Newest Lunch, which operated nearby on the same block of Albany Street; the Newest Lunch opened just a few years after the New Way Lunch went into business.

These two images show the interior of the rebuilt New Way Lunch building soon after in opened in 1967. The seating capacity of the new building was nearly double of their prior building. Image from John Papp Photograph Collection.  

During the 1920s and 1930s, New Way Lunch had two locations in Schenectady. New Way Lunch, the Albany Street business, was operated by Evangel Stathis, while New Way Lunch #2, at 3 South Centre Street (now Broadway), was operated by his brother, Charles Stathis, and Charles' son Peter. In 1947, Evangel's son John assumed ownership of the business, and continued to run it until 1973. In 1973, the business was sold to Henry McCadden, Sr., who advertised the business as Hank's New Way Lunch. McCadden operated the New Way Lunch for several years before changing the business to the New Way Grocery and Deli in the early 1980s.

"Beat Inflation ... Eat at ... Hank's New Way Lunch," reads this 1974 advertisement that appeared in the Schenectady Gazette. After running the New Way Lunch as a family business for over 50 years, the Stathis family sold the business to Henry McCadden in 1973. Image obtained via

In addition to selling hot dogs in the restaurant, the New Way Lunch also catered parties and took orders for special events, providing hundreds of hot dogs and gallons of their secret sauce. At least once, the business conducted a hot dog eating contest. "One man ate 28 and we almost carried him out," Irene Stathis remembered. From time to time, John Stathis would celebrate anniversaries of the New Way Lunch by offering hot dogs for sale at their 1919 price - only 5 cents each.

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