Poll: Know How Mutt Hut Went To The Dogs?

Hot dog shop on Washington Avenue is the second incarnation of a San Leandro favorite.

If you've been around San Leandro any length of time you've seen the , the hot dog eatery at 1904 Washington Avenue.

But did you know that this popular lunch spot is in its second incarnation?

Current owner Jeffrey Montero said the original Mutt Hut was opened in 1949 by three brothers -- George, Ernie and Clarence ("Les") Lessa.

Mutt Hut one was located alongside the Lessa family's grocery store at at 1345 Washington Avenue, on land now given over to the downtown shopping area and parking lot.

Montero has also reinvented himself as a businessman.

From 1983 to 1993 he ran a downtown dry-cleaning shop. He said he got out of that business rather than make the costly switch to a new cleaning process mandated by state law.

A neighbor of the Lessa family, he recalled the old Mutt Hut from his youth and asked if he could revive the name and get into the hot dog business.

"Very graciously they agreed," said Montero, who opened the current shop with his wife Marci in 1994.

The shop is adorned with memorabilia from the original shop, including a bowling shirt for a team long-since disbanded.

There is also a picture of one of the Lessa brothers waving out the window of the original Mutt Hut.

Care to take our poll and guess which brother it is? Your chances are one in three. We'll update the story later with the correct answer.

If you remember the original business tell us in the comments.

(Readers: find San Leandro businesses in our Places directory. Business owners: learn how to use your free Places listing .)

Mike February 17, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Growing up in Marina Faire my buddies and I would hop on our bikes and make the "long" ride downtown to the old location for a real hot dog
Larry Smith February 17, 2012 at 04:23 PM
I remember the days of 5 cent candy bars, too. As an Oakland resident (92nd Avenue), I would ride my bike to downtown San Leandro just for an outing. What a vibrant community it was then. The whole city seemed to pulse around the long gone Plaza, and the Mutt Hut was just steps off the Plaza. Great dogs, but because of budgetary constraints I was only able to indulge two or three times. I remember getting my dog, then walking the few steps back to the Plaza, laying my bike against the raised concrete borders of the plaza lawn, and just sitting on that lawn, enjoying my hotdog, and watching the world go by. It was 1956, a great time to be a 12 year old boy from Oakland, eating a hot dog on the lawn of the best little downtown plaza in America: San Leandro.
Tom Abate February 17, 2012 at 04:52 PM
How nice to relive the memory.
Doug Lessa March 23, 2012 at 11:27 PM
My name is Doug Lessa. My dad George and my uncle's Ernie and Les operated the Mutt Hutt. My mother, Della, used to make the sauce for the hamburgers they also served at the tin shack next to my Grandparents home on Washington Ave. Back in the early 60's my brother George Jr and I spen a summer flipping burgers and serving hot dogs. My grand father Joe had a grocery store on Jaoquin (sp) that we also worked at on the weekends. Les also had a liquor store on the corner of Washington and Jaoquin that we didn't work at. Maybe he thought we would sample the wares...lol. Anyway, I still visit the Mutt Hutt when my home inspection business and construction company is in the area. Jeff serves a quality hot dog today.
Tom Abate March 26, 2012 at 05:33 AM
Doug, thanks for logging on to leave a comment. It's good to hear from the folks who had businesses in town in the years gone by. Hope all is well for you and the Lessa family. And yes, Jeff serves a good dog.


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