Bill Handwerker Interview

When you think of Hot Dogs-----you think of Nathan’s!!
What a celebrated history Nathan’s enjoys.
Founder Nathan Handwerker started his business with $300 he saved. The Nathan’s name came from a popular song of the day-----“Nathan, Nathan Why You Waitin’”? after it was determined that Handwerker’s Hot Dogs was just too long of a name to use.
Nathan’s Hot Dogs were so popular with Warner Bros. founder Jack Warner that he had the hot dogs sent to him regularly at his villa in Cannes, France.
Over the years, the Queen Mother Elizabeth of England, Jackie Kennedy, Princess Grace of Monaco, Cary Grant, Barbara Streisand, Robert Kennedy, Ed Sullivan, Frank Sinatra, Milton Berk, Sandy Koufax, Governer Nelson Rockefeller, President Harry Truman, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Durante, Danny Kaye, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr., Zsa Zsa Gaber, and Red Buttons have all eaten at Nathan’s.
To talk about the history of Nathan’s, we spoke with Bill Handwerker.

Q – Bill, you are related to the founder of Nathan’s, because you are the grandson. Correct?
A – Correct.

Q – Did you play an active role in the co.?
A – Yes. I was with the co. for well over 20 years.

Q – What was your position?
A – The last position was Senior Vice-President of Corporate Food Service.

Q – There was a Nathan’s inside a Caldor Dept. store here in Syracuse that lasted all of 18 months because Caldor’s went under. Why didn’t Nathan’s ever open a free standing unit in town?
A - I would prefer on any type of those operating questions, that you discuss those things with Wayne Norbitz, the President of the Co.

Q – Why would Nathan’s take on Kenny Rogers Roasters and Miami Subs as well as Arthur Treachers? Do you have any idea?
A – All these type questions-----happened after I left the co. so that’s why Wayne Norbitz would be the one to speak to. But, I can tell you in general that the concept of bundling provides more variety and more reasons to come at different day parts. Just conceptually, that’s the idea.

Q – Are hot dogs more popular than ever?
A – I still believe so. Definitely I believe that.

Q – Would Nathan’s ever consider selling a veggie dog for vegetarians or is that something you’re already doing?
A – I don’t know what they’re doing now, but, I know that we always looked at many different products, but, it had to have the same quality of taste to provide the customer with the product that’s comparable with the Nathan’s name.

Q – Who is Nathan’s competition?
A – Well, in terms of a high-end hot dog?

Q – Right.
A – It’s always been Hebrew National which is Kosher. We were always compared with that. But, that’s a question for Mr. Norbitz as well. From a hot dog point of view, they were always the one that was compared (to us).

Q – Do they also have stores nationwide?
A – Well, they’re more of a manufacturer. They sell to many different people.

Q – What do you do these days?
A – I’m a financial consultant concentrating on pensions and retirement planning.

Official Website: Nathan's Famous

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