One of South LA’s most influential and iconic restaurants is closing on Sunday. Eater has learned that Art’s Famous Chili Dog, the 80-year-old legend situated right at Florence and Normandie, will hold its final day of service this weekend, ending one of the greatest runs for any restaurant in Los Angeles County.
Art’s Famous Chili Dogs has been a staple of sprawling South LA since 1939, when founder Art Elkind moved out to California from the midwest with plans to open a hot dog stand. For his entire life Elkind claimed (rather spuriously) to have invented the chili dog at this stand, serving a thin chili on top of caseless hot dogs. The lack of a “snap” in his dogs was always a controversial thing for Elkind, who asserted that by not using encased hot dogs, the meat, bun, cheese, and chili would better blend together to create one glorious bite.
For decades fans came from all over greater Los Angeles to enjoy Elkind’s hot dogs, but by the later third of his life Elkind began to see his community at Florence and Normandie left behind by a white Los Angeles political machine focusing instead on largely segregated suburban growth. By 1992 Art’s was situated directly in front of the attack on truck driver Reginald Denny that helped to spark the Los Angeles riots, capping years of anger and resentment that had been building up in South LA.
Local African American business owner Darrell Nelms stepped in to purchase Art’s Famous Chili Dogs in 1994, and has been running the stand ever since. Now Nelms and his family say that Sunday is the final day of service for them. In a note posted to Instagram, Nelms saying “We like to thank our friends and loyal customers for the support and memories throughout the years.”
The final day of service at Art’s Famous Chili Dogs is this coming Sunday, March 8, beginning at 10 a.m. Expect the stand to close up by 5:30 p.m., if not before.