September 14, 2012

Texas Red Hots, NY.

Texas Road Find

Work brought me to the city of Plattsburgh NY recently and as I am prone to do, I approached my destination from the less travelled side. Today I ventured off I#87 an exit or two before Plattsburgh and scooted up Rt#9 which runs the edge of Lake Champlain. My eyes ever mounted on a swivel, the scalloped color of red and the message it shouted forced me to take a sharp left into the parking lot of this vintage drive in. Being a fan of Guy Fieri I couldn't resist. My objective was to snap a quick photograph, spin around in the parking lot and finish up my two mile journey up the road. 

How could you not love this face? 

I pulled up along side and grabbed my camera which is always less than an arms length away. Before I could pull it from the case a young man in his twenties approached my driver side window. He appeared on a mission and I was prepared to be asked what my intentions were. I was uncomfortably mistaken. He had a pad and pencil in his hand. He was coming out to take my food order. Apparently a non-carpetbagger would have known that. I braced myself. "What can I get you?" the polite young man in the clean t-shirt asked. "Um", was the only response I had prepared at this point. I downshifted quickly. "I didn't know you had curbside, I just pulled in because of your neat looking building. I really didn't want anything to eat. Do you mind if I just take a picture?" He handled it better than expected. The parking lot was empty and the tourist season was waining. I'm sure there were still bills to be paid. He said, "Sure, go ahead." and retreated to the side door a bit perturbed--I would imagine. 

"You want to give the place a hug."
I felt like the guy who just told the neighbor kid he was too busy to play right now and that he needed to go back home to his mother. My guilt was not strong enough to keep me from jumping out and grabbing a picture or two though. I walked around to the front of the building which is a solid (?) wall of glass block. In the middle are two classic pane-glass doors. As I raised my camera trying to get a distinct angle, I zoomed in on one small pane of glass. There like a beacon was the reason my truck came to rest in the parking lot that day. STOP HATE was the message. 

We'll, now what. Guilt did grab me by the arm pretty hard this time. Maybe I am just a little hungry? I tapped my back pocket to be sure I didn't leave my wallet in the truck and I went inside. The place was as immaculate as it was old. The counter was a mini-horseshoe and quaint as hell. "I think I'll try a Michigan with onions -- and a cold Pepsi. I gotta try one.", I said with a you-got-me smile. The year my odometer turned 50 I stopped being bashful. "Do you mind if I take a picture of that, No Spitting sign?, That is so cool." The kid never flinched, "Sure, go ahead." 

I didn't want to test the law. 

Two dogs, a tip, and ten bucks later I was full--artistically and belly. Indigestion today was welcome. I stood and shook the young mans hand. I thanked him for being a gentlemen and letting me rummage through the restaurant. I asked how long the place had been there? He said this was their seventieth year. The place was as fresh as a college freshman on the campus to my north. As I turned toward the door one more photo...  

Ahhh, that was good! 


  1. What a fun find. I just love stuff like this, and receiving messages, wholly unexpected. How cool is that? Great photos to illustrate and some nice lines you've written to convey the experience.

  2. John, I believe you really know how to live, with your eyes and your heart wide open to wonder. Also, you made me really hungry for one of those Texas Red Hots!

  3. Excellent capture in photos and words. I really got the feel of the place. I think there are many stories left in that place. -- barbara

  4. Claire and Carls--Love that place! I was stationed in Plattsburgh in the early 80's and that was the place to go. Fabulous michigans!!

  5. I grew up in the Plattsburgh area. Even though I moved to Florida 15 years ago, not a summer passes where I don't crave some michigans.

  6. Words cannot describe how good these Michigans are!! I go up every year and just recently started making my own Michigan sauce at home. Clare & Carls rocks!!

  7. I have eaten there so many times in my life including yesterday you cant count. Great place always....Terry when youre done I want to own it. :)

  8. Living less than two miles from Clare & Carl's, I guess I don't always realize how lucky I am. Michigan hot dogs are a local/regional specialty and there are NONE, NONE better than Clare & Carl's.

    Two downsides: It is a closed-in-winter operation and they no longer serve milkshakes.

  9. Stationed at Plattsburgh AIr Force base we were well acquainted with Claire & Carl's in the 60's It was a real treat on paydays to go there. Miss those simple days

  10. Thank you so much for your commentary and the wonderful photos of Clare and Carl's! My mother dined here when she was in college in the 50's, and my sisters and I were raised on Clare & Carl's Michigans, crinkle cut fries, onion rings and Bayview Dairy chocolate milk.
    Many times we'd eat in the car with our tray hooked on the driver's side window and a multitude of ever-hopeful seagulls flying overhead waiting for a French Fry to drop. We try to eat at Clare and Carl's every time we go home to Peru, during the summer months. - Susan

  11. What a lovely article for such a fun place. You captured it perfectly. Clare and Carl's is an all time favorite. Not only are the michigans fab but next time you are in town, order a cheeseburger. C and C's is a local icon and Terry has continued to serve the community and keep the place alive with good food, fun and promoting good jobs for local kids. I ask you...what more could you ask from a local business. People helping people and providing a good time to boot!!! Gosh...I'm going to have two with buried for supper! Glad you were able to experience Clare and Carl's.

  12. Your truck turned left because it knew if you drove by you would have missed one of the best experiences in your life. Anybody that has been to Plattsburgh (which is a little city about 40 miles from the Canada border) knows all about this place. For us that grew up there it is a part of our history. Of course, for all of us that have relocated to another part of this country we most likely have every makeshift recipe for Claren Carl's red hot michigan. Because once you have had one you can not live without them. I am glad you got to experience their little dive and the north country hospitality.

  13. Stationed there 76-80 PAFB FD (57150)
    Been back several times...."TWO WITH BURIED" please.
    In Southern Nh I know 3-4 people that favored Clare + Carls
    I wonder how many Red Hots went out the doors????
    Like others I miss The Burgh...........
    "You don't know what you've got till it's gone"
    Dry Dock. Merons, Filions(the Woodshed), Monopole etc, etc, etc...
    Great to reminisce..........................