Chris’ Hot Dogs is not only a popular place to eat but also a popular political and business hangout. The small restaurant on historic Dexter Avenue in downtown Montgomery is in view of the State Capitol, close enough for folks to walk there.  Political deals have been struck at Chris’ during lunch, happy hour and early dinner. And business deals. And musical deals.

The grandfather, Chris Katechis, founded Chris’ Hot Dogs in 1917. Chris, son Theo and grandson Gus have run it for 107 years. So far.  

Theo Katechis died Wednesday in Montgomery at age 78. His son, Costas (Gus) Katechis, will continue to run the culinary establishment.

Chris Katechis Alabama News
(Theo Katechis/Facebook)

Theo Katechis was a helper in times of need. He helped his employees in various states of need. He helped customers who shared with him their stories.

And Theo even put together lunches for street people on Dexter Avenue. He did not want any credit or tax deductions for this. He and his staff told no one when Theo or his team fed people. Plus, they did not want to gain a reputation in the homeless community for being an easy mark. A surge of homeless would have overwhelmed their limited resources and been unpleasant for paying customers. Yet, Theo helped all he could when he could.

It is amazing that this century-plus of Alabama history spanned only three generations of the “First Family of Hot Dogs.”  Chris the father, Theo the son, and Gus the grandson who now has children of his own.

If a recipe for hot dogs could be patented, Chris’s Hot Dogs would be it. It is difficult to describe, so go there and try one. That is the only description you will need. Also, they have their own version of hamburgers. And all the sides.

Chrishotdogsmarker Alabama News
Credit: Historical Markers

Chris’ Hot Dogs was and continues to be a major piece of Alabama history — business, political and musical history.


Chris’ Hot Dogs's food has been consumed on premises by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

Every governor of Alabama since 1917. I wonder how many hot dogs Gov. Big Jim Folsom could eat, or how many Coca-Colas he could drink.

State legislators and judges. Mayors and councilmembers. Congress members. State Auditors.

Aspiring and expiring politicians.

The walls inside Chris’ are now a veritable museum of Alabama politics. Dozens of photos of Alabama politicians adorn the walls. You can just about bet that any who made the Chris’ Hot Dog “Political Wall of Fame” had come in and eaten there.  Some customers will place their order and then proceed to peruse the photos. Lots of memories.  107 years of memories.


Elvis Presley ate at Chris’ Hot Dogs. The “King of Rock and Roll.”

Chris’ was a regular haunt for Alabama’s Hank Williams, Sr. “The King of Country.”  Hank could be seen at the long bar and in the semi-separated side room, now known as the Hank Williams room.

There is a popular tale of songwriting at Chris’ Hot Dogs. Hank was sitting by himself at the long bar visible from the entrance coming in from Dexter Avenue. He was having his customary beverages with his lunch. His attention was diverted when an attractive woman entered Chris’ door from Dexter Avenue.

As she got closer to Hank and the bar, the country music poet said to her:

“Hey good lookin,’ what you got cookin’?"

It was like a light bulb turned on inside Hank’s brain. He got a napkin and asked for a pen. He began to scribble:

Say hey, good lookin' - what ya got cookin'?
How's about cookin' somethin' up with me?
Hey, sweet baby - don't you think maybe
We can find us a brand new recipe?

And the rest is country music history.


If there were a Hot Dog Hall of Fame, Chris’ would be inducted. Maybe we should start one in memory of Theo and his late father, the founder, Chris. We could headquarter it in Montgomery, and I have a suggestion for who to cater the ceremonies.

Theo, his father Chris before him, and now the grandson Gus rarely miss an opportunity to cater an event or deliver hot dogs off-premises, including flying hot dogs out of state. How many “hot dog stands” can say that?

Catering conventions, concerts, political rallies and events.

In 2017, Theo, Gus and the entire Chris’ family threw a celebration for the 100th anniversary of the hot dog stand. Montgomery Police blocked off Dexter Avenue from the Court Square Fountain, past Chris’ green awning, up about two more blocks toward the state capitol building. A street party ensued with music, dancers, and everyone eating hot dogs.

Other celebrities caught inside Chris’ include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jimmy Stewart, novelists F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (a Montgomery native who took her boyfriend Scott to Chris’ when he was stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base.)

While Chris stood turning out hot dogs at 138 Dexter Avenue, a lot of history passed near their door. The Selma-to-Montgomery March. The pastorate of Martin Luther King at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man, and her arrest. The first headquarters of the Confederate States of America. The inaugurations of governors.

It’s a long way from the small island in the Aegean Sea where Christopher Anastasios Katechis was born to the cradle of the Confederacy, Montgomery, Alabama. But that journey was successfully made. Their life’s work became an All-American success story in a short time, and they became a part of all that they have met—and fed.

Christopher Anastasios Mr Chris Katechis 1920w Alabama News
Chris Katechis. Credit: Chris' Hot Dogs

Rest in peace, Theo Katechis. Your legacy is already continuing.    

Funeral arrangements will be announced.

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths.  He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

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