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Kasper’s Original Hot Dog Stand 

The History


Built in 1923 as a metal-and-brick Union Oil service station, Oakland’s smallest flatiron building, at 4521 Telegraph Avenue, was remodeled in 1943 to add what the permit called a “lunch stand.” In 1947 the gas station proprietor, Bruce McCollum, sold the building to Kasper Koojoolian. 


A Turkish immigrant who had arrived in Oakland via Chicago, Koojoolian had started Kasper’s Hot Dogs in 1929 at 64th & Shattuck and opened a second hot dog stand at 3252 Fruitvale Avenue in 1930. 


The Temescal neighborhood was by then an older Italian neighborhood. It was anchored by the Cattaneo Block at 5006-5010 Telegraph Avenue, built in 1871 and one of the oldest commercial masonry buildings in Oakland; it housed a restaurant and saloon operated by Giusué (or Giuseppe) Catteneo and later the Buon Gusto Bakery and, today, the popular restaurant Pizzaiolo. Across the street in a long brick building was the original Genova Delicatessen. 


The “lunch stand” at the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Shattuck avenues became known as Kasper’s Original Hot Dog Stand. The name of the hot dog joint is important: Koojoolian had taken on various partners, including his cousins Steve Beklian and Paul Agajan. In the 1930’s, the cousins broke family ties to become Casper’s Hot Dogs. While the flagship Kasper’s offering is an all-beef hot dog, Casper’s boasts a beef-pork mix. At Kasper’s, the dogs and buns were steamed, the tomatoes and onions were sliced to order, a secret pepper blend was used. After relish and two layers of mustard were applied, the dogs were wrapped exactly as they had been in the 1930s.


The competitor, Casper’s Famous Hot Dogs, became a chain across the San Francisco Bay Area, and currently has locations in Dublin, Hayward, Oakland, Pleasant Hill, Richmond, and Walnut Creek, as well as Oakland, where it has two, including the first one, at 55th and Telegraph, so close to the original as to express a bit of spite. 


When Kasper passed away in 1946, his son-in-law Harry Yaglijian quit his gem-cutting job and took over the business. Then his son, called “Little Harry” by some, began to help his father. In 1980, a public phone booth was installed. By then Kasper’s had become a magnet for celebrities and politicians. “Ron Dellums used to come here as a kid,” said Yaglijian. “As the story goes, he would come in before every election and get his lucky hot dog. He never needed a lucky anything—he was always going to get elected.” Other big names who favored Kasper’s, says Yaglijian, included Eugene McCarthy “when he was running for president,” Danny Glover, and Metallica.” (In 2012, the building reopened briefly to serve as campaign headquarters for Oakland City Council District 1 candidate Len Raphael.) 


In 2003, “Little Harry” closed the business for repairs and couldn’t afford to reopen. Kasper’s has been boarded up ever since. In July 2021, Yaglijian sold the building to Brendan B. Heafey. There is talk of having Kasper’s designated a historic building. 


In an interview with KALW radio in 2017, Harry pointed out the shelf where his grandfather kept the onions, above where he would nap as an infant. He added, proudly, “It’s the only hot dog stand in the country with its own city block.”  

Constance Hale


Sources here >



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