Blackie's Story

A Connecticut Tradition

Since 1928

Over the years little has changed, we serve our signature hot dogs and burgers made fresh daily with our Homemade Pepper Relish. The menu is simple and all you need to know is how many to order: one, two or 3 and a cheese (translation: 3 Hot dogs and one Cheeseburger!). For over 90 years we have been making our homemade Hot Pepper Relish (Not Too Hot–Just Right) which has become quite famous.

Our famous Hot Pepper Relish

The famous Blackie’s relish is a secret family recipe. Many will tell you the relish is not like other relishes; rather than being sweet, it is a spicy, pepper relish (Note: no pickles are harmed in the making of Blackie’s relish). Many have attempted to duplicate the recipe, and some have even come close, but there is only one Blackie’s Relish.

Blackie's relish is literally

out of this world!

Blackie’s Relish was requested by an astronaut at the international space station. So with more than a little help from NASA, we made a fresh batch of Relish in special squeezable bottles and got it on the next space flight to the international space station for the crews’ enjoyment.

In years past, if you were to visit Blackie’s in August, you would see family and friends and neighbors gathered on the hill behind Blackie’s cutting peppers for the relish. A cook and a pepper chopper worked in the basement slowly cooking and canning enough relish to last the entire year. Today, the relish is made off-site, and in larger quantities, but the ingredients and techniques remain a closely held secret.

Nel Flavin felt very strongly about the secrecy of the relish. Many years ago, her son Richard, auctioned off a gallon of Blackie’s relish for charity at the unbelievable sum of $125.00. This did not sit well with his mother, who poured her heart and soul every year into making the relish. Nel went to the lucky winner and insisted on buying it back. Times have changed and now you may purchase it either in the store or online!

The Blackie's Story

Mary Mahoney left her home in County Kerry, Ireland in search of the American dream; she met and married Art Blackman, a Waterbury native. Together they bought a couple of acres of land on the Cheshire/Waterbury line. Their dream was to own a business and by 1925 they had opened an unassuming gas station. The Blackman’s gas station was a gathering spot for friends and neighbors; soon they were serving hungry patrons hot dogs smothered with the Blackman family’s homemade relish.

Blackie’s hot dogs grew in popularity and the Blackmans needed help. Mary enlisted the help of her siblings Nel, Jule and Dick Mahoney. Patrons thoroughly enjoyed the family’s Irish humor, warmth, and wit. Soon Blackie’s had become a popular destination for hungry travelers and families during the day and couples who danced to all hours of the night.

During WWII, times were tough for the nation and government imposed a beef ration, Blackie’s was only allowed to sell one dog per customer.

Continuing Family Tradition

Contrary to any rumor, Blackie’s has remained in the same family since 1928. When Art Blackman died in 1938, Mary built the business with her sister Nel’s loyal assistance. Mary passed away in 1969, leaving her beloved Blackie’s to Nel. Nel was a constant figure behind Blackie’s counter; customers enjoyed her ever present smile, wit, charm working daily until her death in 1994. What Nel loved most about the business was talking and sharing stories with her friends and patrons who came to visit.

Customers were not only greeted by Nel behind the counter, but also, her five children Mike, Joan, Mary Ellen, Richard and Ann who all took pride in being part of Blackie’s. Frequently customers would also be greeted by Nel’s grandchildren who all loved spending extra time with their charismatic grandmother and enjoyed a hot dog or two.

When Nel Flavin passed away in 1994, her youngest son, Richard stepped in to continue the Blackie’s tradition. Knowing that his mother liked things to remain the same, business did not change. He followed in his mother’s footsteps and was often seen sharing stories and chatting with anyone who came in for a dog. Richard passed away in 1998, but his wife Susan and children Lara, Rick, Tim, and Meghan carry on the traditions of Blackie’s.

We still do not serve French fries and continue to be closed on Fridays. You can still enjoy a birch beer on tap and cartons of chocolate milk. Blackie’s will always be a place where generations of families can enjoy the tradition of a Blackie’s dog smothered in our homemade relish.

To avoid a Cabaret Tax

the infamous "No Dancing" sign was posted

What's the story behind
that Red Building?

Blackie’s original building was a small narrow rectangle; the interior had a long counter with booths at the front of the building. Blackie’s business continued to grow and to accommodate customers, octagon shaped towers were built on both sides of the restaurant. The east tower had an elevated balcony around the edge where couples would gather and socialize.

In 1945, a devastating fire destroyed the building. Neighbors, friends and family worked together to erect a make-shift building and we were back in business in weeks. Blackie’s was rebuilt to resemble the original building with the addition of double garage doors, which allowed a little more elbow room and cooling breezes in the evening. The interior and the exterior were sided in knotty pine and the neon signs were erected over each tower. Through the years, the exterior pine deteriorated and new aluminum siding was added. We don’t know why the red and white color scheme was chosen, but we do like it!

In the winter of 2007 Blackie’s also underwent a renovation. We closed our doors for seven weeks, expanding the kitchen and storage, but kept the integrity of the original building by keeping the counters and dining room the same.