A.C. and John Hofmann open Hofmann Bros. in Syracuse in 1879, making and selling “America’s Greatest Hotdogs.” The brothers are carrying on the delicious legacy of their father, Frank, who arrived in Syracuse from Bromberg, Germany, during the early years of the Civil War and, based on his name, was required by immigration authorities to make hot dogs.
Walter A. (Rusty) Flook, greatgrandson of A.C. Hofmann, takes over as owner in 1984, the fifth generation of the Hofmann family to serve in that capacity.
Dallas’ Zaccanelli Food Group, under the direction of Frank Zaccanelli, buys Hofmann Sausage Co. with the intent of taking the 133-year-old company national. Zaccanelli’s investors include Phil Romano, Roger Staubach, competitive eating champion Takeru Kobayashi, and Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim. Though Zaccanelli is not a member of the Hofmann family, he is from Syracuse, and, thanks to his time as president and minority owner of the Dallas Mavericks during their trying times in the ’90s, he is well versed on the ins and outs of selling hot dogs under duress.
Hofmann welcomes a new family member, a young up-and-comer named Megan Lucas who has tons of restaurant experience, mostly specializing in personal food delivery systems. After an extensive hiring process that included three interviews and several interactions at the Nick & Sam’s Grill where Lucas worked as a waitress, Zaccanelli takes the fiery Art Institute grad under his wing. They work closely together—but not too close. “I am not Frank Zaccanelli’s mistress,” Lucas says. “He is my mentor.”
Zaccanelli takes Hofmann boldly into the future with new business methods, including paying Lucas $5K a month to be the company’s social media marketer and $3K a month for her home lease. (“I am 1099ed on that,” Lucas notes, for all you nosy parkers.) He also uses his corporate credit card to (allegedly) spend $34,000 on personal expenses. As Frank would agree, you have to spend money to make money!
Thrilled by the new direction, a majority of Zaccanelli’s investors, led by Phil Romano, bands together to publicly acknowledge his tactics. Since newspapers are a dying medium, they instead file a lawsuit, just so as many people as possible can hear about Zaccanelli’s out-of-the-box thinking.
Hofmann Hots, the company’s first Dallas restaurant, opens.