The Shade Shack is open for dine-in or delivery at Higgins Beach. Photo by Bob Keyes

SCARBOROUGH — There are things a committed managing partner must do to ensure a business succeeds, or at least gets proper attention.

For Phil Kronenthal, aka Mr. Hot Dog, that means dressing up in a silly foam hot dog suit on a 90-degree day and delivering Feltman’s of Coney Island hot dogs, cold drinks and ice cream treats by bike to beach-goers at Higgins Beach or anyone in the beachfront neighborhood. Kronenthal and his partners own Higgins Beach Inn and have opened the Shade Shack as a lunch option for the hundreds of people who walk by the hotel on their trek to the beach every summer day.

They are betting that some of those people will see the convenience of ordering on their phones and having food delivered to the beach rather than making or buying sandwiches, which often get soggy in the cooler by the time they are unpacked on the beach.

The Shade Shack is a side operation to the inn’s fine-dining establishment, Shade. The Shade Shack operates for lunch only on sunny days, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., before the space transitions to Shade for dinner. With a menu that features Feltman’s dogs and their famous casings that snap with every bite – as well as burgers, BLTs, grilled cheese and the like – the Shade Shack offers quick and convenient food to eat on site or order for pickup or delivery by bike, courtesy of Kronenthal or any of the helpers he can recruit to make the short trek from the classic New England inn to the beach a block away.

The Shade Shack features Feltman’s of Coney Island hot dogs, with a casing that snaps with every bite. Photo by Bob Keyes

“Last year was the year of the rat. This summer is the summer of the hot dog,” he said as pedaled away toward the beach in his hot dog outfit.

Even without the good-natured beach delivery, the Shade Shack is all about summer. The menu is printed on a surf board, there are picnic tables – with large shade-giving umbrellas – for outdoor dining, and there’s a large screened porch for indoor dining. The porch is a relatively new addition to the Higgins Beach Inn, added after the Migis Hotel Group purchased the hotel in 2017. The picnic tables were added last year, so Shade could operate safely during the pandemic. This season, the inn expanded the outdoor dining area, adding several tables.

The Feltman’s connection stems from Kronenthal’s appreciation of the Coney Island hot dog. Feltman’s roots date to 1867, and it claims to have operated the first hot dog stand in the New York City beach destination. Kronenthal read a story a year or so ago about efforts to revive the brand, called the head of the company and made a deal to sell the hot dogs in Maine.

It was a good decision.

Going with tradition, I ordered the Coney Island, served with beef chili, diced onions and melted cheddar ($8). The grilled dog comes with a bag of Miss Vickie’s sea salt chips and a pickle spear. I ordered a water, and people who dine on site have the option of beer and wine, as well. Served on a paper-lined plastic tray, both ends of the dog extended beyond the grilled bun, and it was packed with spicy ground beef that spilled over the edges — so much so I could have used a fork to enjoy all the morsels. The snap of the first bite was a reminder of the both the sounds and tastes of summer.

Other options for hot dogs include the classic dog, Chicago dog with hot peppers, the Reuben with sauerkraut, the Carolina with coleslaw and Vidalia onions, the Cuban, Cowboy, etc. I loved the look of the burger, and the classic BLT was temping. There’s also a lobster roll; on the day I stopped in, the market price was $32. Ice cream treats include Klondike bars, Italian ice and homemade ice-cream sandwiches.

The service was fast and friendly, and the experience was as fun, fun, fun as an endless summer.

Brady Demers prepares to make a delivery. Photo by Bob Keyes


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.