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What We’re Into: The carhop at Cupid’s Hot Dogs

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The Walsh sisters weren’t expecting to take over the family business, but when their father died suddenly in 2009, Morgan and Kelly, then 21 and 27 years old at the time, barely had time to breathe. Left with little choice, the sisters dived in headfirst.

“Your dad died, [but] payroll’s due on Monday. Figure it out,” Morgan said.

There are small homages to Rick, their father, scattered here and there at Cupid’s Hot Dogs, like Rod Stewart song lyrics painted on a table. And now the sisters are putting their own spin on the hot dog restaurant, which began slinging its signature chili dogs in North Hollywood in 1946.

They’re doing it on roller skates. The carhop has had something of a resurgence during the pandemic, with the elimination of dine-in and many more people eating in their cars. Now, every Thursday, employees at Cupid’s in the Winnetka neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley (there’s another location in Simi Valley) revive the spirit of decades past by serving customers in style — and on eight wheels.

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It’s a way for the Walshes to have fun and help keep roller skating — a beloved tradition in the San Fernando Valley and Greater Los Angeles — alive.

For Morgan, it began simply as an excuse to skate on the job. “I was like, ‘I bet I could skate behind the counter,’” she said. “So I brought my skates. I was really nervous. There’s hot steamers — this could be bad.”

But the customers loved it. “There were so many who were surprised and were just like, I used to go to Skateland, or I used to be a skate guard [rink referees that kept an eye out for illegal moves].”

The Walsh sisters love their San Fernando Valley upbringing, and it shows in the massive mural they had painted adjacent to the hot dog stand — white palm trees on a black background surrounding two simple words: the Valley. “We’re super proud to be from the Valley,” Walsh said. “I do think it’s a place that’s a little misunderstood.”

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“Anyone’s who’s like, ‘I don’t like the Valley,’ I’m like, ‘Oh, you don’t like to park?’”

Fair point.

The carhop at Cupid’s Hot Dogs lasts from 3-7 p.m. on Thursdays at 20030 Vanowen St., Winnetka, ; (818) 347-1344; cupidshotdogs.net


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