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Olneyville New York System: Hot Wieners Perfected to an Art and Science in Providence, R.I.

Olneyville NY System wieners, fries and coffee milk -- a Rhode Island tradition
A Rhode Island tradition: wieners, fries and coffee milk.

by Eric Hurwitz. Page updated on 11/16/16.
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Olneyville New York System in Providence, R.I., is on a roll, and we don't mean the hot dog kind.

The James Beard Foundation, a famous proponent of American food cuisine, recently awarded Olneyville New York System for the 2014 America’s Classics Award. This award honors "regional establishments, often family-owned, that are treasured for their quality food, local character, and lasting appeal."  The Food Network's Guy Fieiri also featured Olneyville's specialty dish on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. The Daily Meal included Olneyville New York Systems wieners in its America’s 35 Best Hot Dogs article.  Additionally, The Travel Channel's Man Vs. Food, an American food reality TV series, also spotlighted Olneyville in a segment where a local rugby player participated in a hot wiener challenge. The Providence Phoenix has called Olneyville "Providence's best wiener joint." Add visits from celebrities ranging from Food Network star Adam Richman  to New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, and you have a restaurant that is running full steam ahead.

The real story of Olneyville New York System, however, resides in its delicious wieners, longevity and faithful customers.  A fourth generation family-owned and operated fast food restaurant, co-owner Greg Stevens estimates up to 90 percent of his customers having dined there before. Those customers especially love the "All the Way" signature wiener with ground beef, yellow mustard, onions, celery salt, special spices and soybean oil on a steamed bun. As part of the tradition, a delicious coffee milk and tasty fries typically accompany the meal.
 
The restaurant has other delightful quirks, too. Never call a wiener a hot dog here. The Olneyville version differs as it is a long rope with a natural casing that is hand-cut daily, according to Stevens.  And using ketchup is strongly discouraged.  In fact, you'll see a sign that states, "It Has Been Said That When You Put Ketchup On A Hot Wiener, It Is A Sin...Here It Is Against The Law!" And because grillers have to make the food fast due to crowds and big take-out orders, they have perfected an "up-the-arm" technique where they balance hot dogs on their arms while adding toppings in rapid succession. General Manager Jimmy Saccoccio, a 45-year employee of Olneyville and the nicest guy you'll ever meet, has perfected the technique...
Preparing wieners at Olnyville NY System, Providence RI 

Olneyville is not just about wieners, however, as they offer many other dishes including a rib eye sandwich, burgers, grilled cheese, fish and chips, tuna melts and a Western. Let's just say, though, that it would be a shame to travel any distance and not order an Olneyville New York System wiener!

Open until 2 .m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends, customers often pack the plain but pleasant diner-like restaurant with tile flooring, counter, and booths with Formica tables in a working class neighborhood setting that brings in all walks of life. The staff treats its business as a lifestyle instead of just a place to work, and the customers have appreciated that through the generations. As a result, Olneyville New York System is truly an American success story.

In fact, Olneyville's origins date back to the 1920s when Nicholas Stevens and father Anthony emigrated to the United States from
Owners, Olneyville NY System, Provdience RI Greece and settled in Brooklyn, N.Y., where they operated a candy shop. In the late 1930s, they moved their families to Rhode Island and opened a small restaurant at 8 Olneyville Square and served hot wieners and a small lunch menu. Then in 1953, they moved to its current Plainfield St. location. In 1981, a second location opened at 1012 Reservoir Ave in Cranston and then a third at 1744 Mineral Spring Avenue in Providence. To this day, the Stevens family continues to operate the restaurants. (pictured to the right: owners. Greg Stevens and Stephanie Stevens Turini).

If there was ever a wiener place that could be labeled "genius," Olneyville would be it. That genius comes from knowing a good thing when they see it, and not straying too far from the original recipe and overall business model. Sometimes, after all, the best things in life come from no change at all. Long live this type of American dream!

Olneyville New York System
18 Plainfield Street
(401) 621-9500
Mon – Thu: 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Fri – Sat: 11:00 am – 3:00 am
Sun: Noon – 2:00 am

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