Cream of the Crop: Cupid’s Hotdogs

When Richard and Bernice Walsh opened this iconic San Fernando Valley establishment in 1946, it was called Walsh’s Hot Dogs.  Shortly after opening their North Hollywood location, the couple changed the name to “Cupid’s”, as a nod to their nicknames.  Richard was “Stupid”, and Bernice was “Cupid”.  And it’s been known as Cupid’s Hot Dogs since then, the home of the Valley’s signature chili dog!    

For almost four decades, Richard and Bernice ran the North Hollywood, Van Nuys, and Canoga Park locations, serving their hotdogs only one way—with mustard, chili, and onions. Their son, Rick, took over the business in the early 1980s after Bernice passed away.  Rick added ketchup, cheese, and relish to the menu—much to his dad’s dismay.  As the story goes, Richard threatened to cut his son’s hair and shut down the place but after trying the new condiments, he declared it wasn’t such a bad idea.  That’s how the menu changed after almost four decades, with the addition of The Triangle: mustard, onion, and relish.

Cupid's Hotdogs

Photo by Danrochelle Yumul
Under his ownership, Rick expanded and opened their Simi Valley location in 1988.  His sudden and unexpected passing in 2009, left his daughters, Kelly, and Morgan, as the third-generation owners of the popular Valley establishment.  Initially, the sisters were a little apprehensive about taking on the family business being only 27 and 21 at that time but they knew how important their stand was to the community and what it mean to customers and regulars, old and new.  So, they dove in, and went all in, taking over the family business.  Kelli handles the paperwork and bookkeeping while Morgan takes on social media and events.
The sisters love how embedded their establishment is in the community.  During the 199$ Northridge earthquake, their dad emptied out the fridge and fed the neighborhood.  Over the years, they stayed true to their grandparents’ original vision of keeping a simple menu with awesome food, with some additions of their own.  

We keep our menu simple, hot dogs, chips, and a drink. Other than a few minor additions, little has changed since our doors opened in 1946. That’s what our customers love about us. With a warm steamed bun, a hot dog with a snap, and the secret Cupid’s chili recipe, we don’t need much else,” the sisters shared during an interview with VoyageLA.

A couple years ago, they added a weekly carhop service in response to the pandemic which was a huge hit I the community.  

“I think the roller skating and just talking to the customers and hearing how much it means to them that they’re grateful that we’re still keeping it going and just how happy it makes them that they still get to have that piece of their childhood back,” Kelly said.

They are also doing more events at their Canoga location, including a car show every weekend, and the occasional music performance.  Last year, they celebrated their 75th anniversary.

In the past several years, they have expanded the business, serving orders online as well as opening their first out of state location in Orlando, FL.

Stop by and check out this amazing San Fernando Valley establishment!