Manorville resident Grace Amond of Grace’s (Famous) Restaurant, formerly Grace’s Hot Dogs, which catered to locals and motorists on their way to and from the Hamptons, including celebrities Alan Alda, Ben Gazzara, Dick Cavett and Peggy Cass, died on Monday. According to her daughter, Eva Haughie, Ms. Amond died peacefully at home after a long bout with emphysema. She was 76.
“I miss everything about her,” said her husband of 28 years, Harry Amond, a former construction contractor who helped build and run Grace’s Restaurant. “I especially miss her smile and sense of humor, everybody loved her.”
With the help of Ms. Haughie, Ms. Amond started Grace’s in the early 1970s as a hot dog stand. Ms. Haughie said her mother was going through a divorce at the time and looking to make some extra cash.
“I remember I was at college and she called me up and asked me if I wanted to be her business partner,” Ms. Haughie said. “I was so honored that she picked me.”
Securing a $25 vending permit from the county in 1971, Ms. Amond bought an 8-foot-by-8-foot handmade wooden trailer for $400 and converted it into hot dog stand, which she placed next to her home on County Road 111.
The state was putting the last touches on a new exit from the Long Island Expressway onto CR 111 at the time. The timing was perfect.
“The guys building the highway would come and get hot dogs,” Ms. Haughie recalled.
The mother-daughter team quickly began bringing in motorists heading to and from the Hamptons as well.
“When I opened up, there was nothing there but a road,” Ms. Amond said during a 2002 interview, just prior to the closing of the restaurant. “Right after they finished the exit, the whole place took off. The timing couldn’t have been better. It still amazes me how everything worked out so well. My life truly seems to have been touched by God.”
Ms. Haughie noted that it was her mother’s genuine personality and welcoming smile that made the hot dog stand attractive, but noted that her mother’s good looks may also have been a factor.
“My mom was hot,” Ms. Haughie chuckled. “We’d have men come up and say, ‘I don’t know which one of you I want to ask out.’ At one point, she was dating a guy younger than the guy I was dating. We were just two single moms trying to make a living.”
Ms. Haughie dubbed her mother a “people person” and noted that Ms. Amond was generous to a fault. She said that although the two women were struggling financially in the hot dog stand’s early days, that did not stop Ms. Amond from giving $5 to a patron in need.
“Five dollars was a lot of money in those days,” Ms. Haughie said. “I said, ‘Are you crazy?’ But that’s just the way my mom was. She’d face the fires of hell for her friends and her family.”
While heading home from his summer house in Southampton, WNBC news anchor Chuck Scarborough and his family discovered the roadside hot dog stand. After just one visit, stopping at Grace’s became a tradition for the family.
“There was just something about the novelty of that roadside trailer. It instantly became a summer ritual for the kids,” Mr. Scarborough said in a 2002 interview. “I remember it always being a very festive atmosphere, with a lots of smiling and laughing going on.”
Other patrons included former New York Mayor John V. Lindsay and soap opera diva Susan Lucci. One of Ms. Amond’s favorite celeb patrons was Broadway and television actress Peggy Cass.
“She used to have a hot dog and a root beer and just sit and gab with me,” Ms. Amond recalled in the 2002 interview. “She was just a nice, genuine person.”
Ms. Haughie said her mother had the same genuine personality and an authentic smile that was as irresistible as Grace’s food. She and her mother first sold Sabrett hot dogs out of the tiny white and red trailer. With a steady increase in business, they quickly upgraded to a whopping 2-ounce product made by Boars Head, which seemed to add to the hot dog stand’s startling success.
Mr. Amond said he met his wife in the mid-1970s, and soon fell in love with her. In 1985, with the help of Mr. Amond and Ms. Haughie, Ms. Amond built an actual restaurant.
“We were worried because we put everything we had into the restaurant,” Mr. Amond recalled. “But I said to her, ‘What’s the worst that could happen? We’ll go bankrupt, and I’ll go back to construction and you’ll open another hot dog stand.”
The couple’s fears were for naught. The new restaurant thrived and would continue to prosper into the new millennium. But Mr. and Ms. Amond decided that after being on a roll for 31 years, it was time to retire.
They sold the restaurant for $1.3 million in 2002. It was razed shortly after to make way for the North Fork Bank, which is now Citibank, and Starbucks coffee.