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Oct 8, 2009 2:23 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Grace's Hot Dogs founder Grace Amond dies at Manorville home

Oct 8, 2009 2:23 PM

Manorville resident Grace Amond of Grace’s (Famous) Restaurant, formerly Grace’s Hot Dogs, which catered to locals and motorists on their way to and from the Hamptons, including celebrities Alan Alda, Ben Gazzara, Dick Cavett and Peggy Cass, died on Monday. According to her daughter, Eva Haughie, Ms. Amond died peacefully at home after a long bout with emphysema. She was 76.

“I miss everything about her,” said her husband of 28 years, Harry Amond, a former construction contractor who helped build and run Grace’s Restaurant. “I especially miss her smile and sense of humor, everybody loved her.”

With the help of Ms. Haughie, Ms. Amond started Grace’s in the early 1970s as a hot dog stand. Ms. Haughie said her mother was going through a divorce at the time and looking to make some extra cash.

“I remember I was at college and she called me up and asked me if I wanted to be her business partner,” Ms. Haughie said. “I was so honored that she picked me.”

Securing a $25 vending permit from the county in 1971, Ms. Amond bought an 8-foot-by-8-foot handmade wooden trailer for $400 and converted it into hot dog stand, which she placed next to her home on County Road 111.

The state was putting the last touches on a new exit from the Long Island Expressway onto CR 111 at the time. The timing was perfect.

“The guys building the highway would come and get hot dogs,” Ms. Haughie recalled.

The mother-daughter team quickly began bringing in motorists heading to and from the Hamptons as well.

“When I opened up, there was nothing there but a road,” Ms. Amond said during a 2002 interview, just prior to the closing of the restaurant. “Right after they finished the exit, the whole place took off. The timing couldn’t have been better. It still amazes me how everything worked out so well. My life truly seems to have been touched by God.”

Ms. Haughie noted that it was her mother’s genuine personality and welcoming smile that made the hot dog stand attractive, but noted that her mother’s good looks may also have been a factor.

“My mom was hot,” Ms. Haughie chuckled. “We’d have men come up and say, ‘I don’t know which one of you I want to ask out.’ At one point, she was dating a guy younger than the guy I was dating. We were just two single moms trying to make a living.”

Ms. Haughie dubbed her mother a “people person” and noted that Ms. Amond was generous to a fault. She said that although the two women were struggling financially in the hot dog stand’s early days, that did not stop Ms. Amond from giving $5 to a patron in need.

“Five dollars was a lot of money in those days,” Ms. Haughie said. “I said, ‘Are you crazy?’ But that’s just the way my mom was. She’d face the fires of hell for her friends and her family.”

While heading home from his summer house in Southampton, WNBC news anchor Chuck Scarborough and his family discovered the roadside hot dog stand. After just one visit, stopping at Grace’s became a tradition for the family.

“There was just something about the novelty of that roadside trailer. It instantly became a summer ritual for the kids,” Mr. Scarborough said in a 2002 interview. “I remember it always being a very festive atmosphere, with a lots of smiling and laughing going on.”

Other patrons included former New York Mayor John V. Lindsay and soap opera diva Susan Lucci. One of Ms. Amond’s favorite celeb patrons was Broadway and television actress Peggy Cass.

“She used to have a hot dog and a 
root beer and just sit and gab with 
me,” Ms. Amond recalled in the 2002 interview. “She was just a nice, genuine person.”

Ms. Haughie said her mother had the same genuine personality and an authentic smile that was as irresistible as Grace’s food. She and her mother first sold Sabrett hot dogs out of the tiny white and red trailer. With a steady increase in business, they quickly upgraded to a whopping 2-ounce product made by Boars Head, which seemed to add to the hot dog stand’s startling success.

Mr. Amond said he met his wife in the mid-1970s, and soon fell in love with her. In 1985, with the help of Mr. Amond and Ms. Haughie, Ms. Amond built an actual restaurant.

“We were worried because we put everything we had into the restaurant,” Mr. Amond recalled. “But I said to her, ‘What’s the worst that could happen? We’ll go bankrupt, and I’ll go back to construction and you’ll open another hot dog stand.”

The couple’s fears were for naught. The new restaurant thrived and would continue to prosper into the new millennium. But Mr. and Ms. Amond decided that after being on a roll for 31 years, it was time to retire.

They sold the restaurant for $1.3 million in 2002. It was razed shortly after to make way for the North Fork Bank, which is now Citibank, and Starbucks coffee.

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To Jennett Meriden Russell:

I think that the, " Peggy Cass", whom you mention in the article was the theater and tv actress and long time Hamptons resident. I used to see her on the Jitney. Cass Elliot, (Mama Cass), of The Mamas & The Papas, died in 1974.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 8, 09 1:33 PM
Thanks for the correction.
Brendan O'Reilly
Web Editor
By BOReilly (135), Hampton Bays on Oct 8, 09 2:08 PM
This area needs more hot dog trucks . I especially miss Miss D's that used to be in East Quogue near the Hampton Bays border .
The only 2 that I know of are the Veterans wagon by Spadaros in East Moriches and the one girl on County Rd. 31 just south of Sunrise highway and I don't know if she's there anymore.
A couple of years ago Connie Mansfield had a wagon going by Strebels laundry in Quogue but that didn't last too long. The local residents probably didn't like it and had it booted out ...more
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Oct 8, 09 2:39 PM
I miss Graces. Sorry to correct you, Brendan-the Graces building is still there. They renovated it for the bank & SBUX. Nothing was razed.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Oct 8, 09 3:50 PM
Grace's (famous) Hot Dogs, with their cartoon drawings of The Lockhorn's and their delicious (and affordable) food are a part of our cultural past. Whether we ate them standing up at her trailer, or sitting outside on a small table at the restaurant (now bank) they were a welcome treat after a day of wineries and farm stands. We miss Grace and her famous hot dogs. My parents always loved to stop there.
Wishing her family comfort and condolences at this time.
By vince iuliano (1), Ronkonkoma on Oct 8, 09 11:31 PM
I don't see where a mistake was made concerning Peggy Cass vs. Mama Cass.......the article clearly points out that it was broadway and tv actress Peggy Cass, there is no mention of Mama Cass........is Highhatsize hallucinating?
By MaryMac (43), Riverhead on Oct 9, 09 10:12 AM
because by the time you saw it , the article was corrected.
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on Oct 10, 09 6:50 PM
She will be missed!!!!
By Pocholo (13), Westhampton on Oct 9, 09 10:37 AM
thanks for the memories. god gets an angel

By ICARE (23), SOUTHAMPTON on Oct 9, 09 7:30 PM
Can somebody please tell me where to get a decent hotdog ? !!!
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Oct 15, 09 10:54 AM