ORLANDO, Fla. – A California hot dog stand is opening its first location on the East Coast in Orlando.
Cupid’s Hot Dogs is set to open at 1515 Lee Road. The franchise will be the fifth Cupid’s Hot Dog location overall and the first one outside of California. Most of the locations sit in the San Fernando Valley, with one franchise in Orange County.
Cupid’s is coming to Orlando by way of franchisee Sorot Boyd Chamlongsupalak. He moved to Winter Park with his family about two years ago with his sights on opening a business in Florida.
“We wanted to open up a business in Orlando. So we found this standalone building, which was vacant at that time, and it had a drive-thru and we saw the potential in it,” Chamlongsupalak said.
Chamlongsupalak and his wife are both Thai — and had been living in Thailand prior to their move to Florida — but he grew up in the United Kingdom while his wife grew up in California. He said it was his wife who made him aware of Cupid’s.
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“We visit California all the time and ever since the 80s we’ve been having hot dogs there at Cupid’s Hot Dogs,” Chamlongsupalak said.
When the couple decided on bringing Cupid’s to the East Coast, they approached the owners — sisters Kelly and Morgan Walsh — about franchising.
“They welcomed the idea and we wanted to, we told them we want to develop the brand into many, many stores in Florida,” Chamlongsupalak said.
Chamlongsupalak added that he is focused on Central Florida for the time being, but hopes to expand into South Florida and as far north as Atlanta.
“So, altogether we’re looking — in the next five years — we’ll probably open another four or five (Cupid’s locations),” he said.
Kelly Walsh — the third-generation owner of Cupid’s along with her sister — said there have been plans to expand the brand for a while.
“We were just kind of waiting for the right person who wanted to it outside of (California),” Kelly Walsh said.
She said that Cupid’s has stayed largely the same since its opening in 1946.
“I think we’ve stayed true to our original menu,” Kelly Walsh said. “We’ve added very few things — like a veggie dog, Chicago toppings — so we just wanted to keep it as simple as our grandparents started it, very minimal changes.”
The sisters have brought back some of the mid-century flourishes one might expect at a classic roadside hot dog stand.
“During COVID, we started doing carhop service, just so people could still go to a restaurant,” Kelly Walsh said. “They could be in the safety of their car, kind of enjoy a show.”
Chamlongsupalak hopes to replicate that experience in Orlando.
“That is in the plan,” he said. “It does take time. If we get the right talent and the right age group for the staff, then surely we’ll be doing the same type of things that the California stores do.”
In addition to planning for future carhops, Chamlongsupalak said he is already scoping out locations in Winter Park for a potential second location of Cupid’s. But, before any of that can happen, he needs to open the first location on Lee Road.
“I think we’re going to open maybe mid-December,” Chamlongsupalak said. “I can’t put a definite date into when we’re opening because the worker shortage will be a factor in this... I think the latest we’ll be open is January.”
He added that the remodel of the property is now in its final stages.
“What’s left is just finishing up, that’s all — finishing up and getting some local talent to help us operate the place,” he said.
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