Quick Take:

After 90 years in business, Twisselman Enterprises is ending its operations at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk after its lease was unexpectedly not renewed by the Santa Cruz Seaside Company. Twisselman Enterprises operated four concession stands serving food, including the iconic Hot Dog On A Stick, which opened in 1934.

After 90 years in business, Twisselman Enterprises, the operator of the iconic Hot Dog On A Stick and three other concession stands at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, will end operations after its landlord, the Santa Cruz Seaside Company, abruptly decided not to renew its lease.

“It was very much a shock,” Allison Twisselman told Lookout. She and her sister were preparing to become the fourth generation to operate the family-run business. “We’ve always performed strong with improved sales year over year.”

The Seaside Company did not disclose its reason for not renewing Twisselman’s lease.

“Like every successful business, our model and approach are constantly evolving for a variety of reasons. The ability to adapt has been essential to our success for 116 years and will be part of our approach for the next 100 years,” the Seaside Company said in a statement Wednesday.

In an updated statement Friday afternoon, the Seaside Company added:

“Concessionaires have been part of the family-owned and locally operated Santa Cruz Seaside Company’s business model for decades. Over the years the number of concessionaires has fluctuated as economic circumstances evolve. While we value our concessionaire tenants, operating a concession at the Boardwalk is not a guarantee of multi-generational lifetime employment.

“The four food locations operated by the Twisselman family will remain at the Boardwalk and be operated by the Santa Cruz Seaside Company. All current Twisselman employees will be offered similar jobs at the Seaside Company with equal or better pay.”

The Twisselman family in front of Hot Dog On A Stick in 1999.
The Twisselman family in front of Hot Dog On A Stick in 1999. Credit: Via Facebook

Twisselman Enterprises opened Hot Dog on a Stick in 1934, and also operates BoardWok, the World Grill and California Wraps and Bowls. The Seaside Company will take over operations of the four businesses in November.

Twisselman was one of six concessionaires at the Boardwalk, including 70-year-old Whiting’s Foods — the largest, with 25 different food service locations; Marini’s at the Beach; O’Neill Surf Shop and Sunshops, which both offer merchandise; and two small concessionaires that do caricatures, face painting and henna tattoos. These businesses are all tenants of the Seaside Company.

Although Twisselman Enterprises is known for its food, Twisselman says her family takes the most pride in the thousands of young people that it has employed over the years. “We are so blessed to have had the opportunity to impact so many young people as they enter the workforce and to help guide them through a critical stage of their life,” the company wrote in a post on Facebook and Instagram announcing the closure.

The Seaside Company, which formed in 1915, operates all the rides, games, arcade and miniature golf and several merchandise locations, as well as more than a dozen locations offering food and drinks. In total, there are 42 food locations at the Boardwalk.

Despite its long tenure at the Boardwalk, Twisselman Enterprises had an annual lease for its restaurants, which was renewed every season. “The leases have always been one year, which isn’t common for restaurants. But we’ve had 90 years of leases,” said Twisselman.

FOR THE RECORD: This story has been updated with a new statement from the Santa Cruz Seaside Company.

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Lily Belli is the food and drink correspondent at Lookout Santa Cruz. Over the past 15 years since she made Santa Cruz her home, Lily has fallen deeply in love with its rich food culture, vibrant agriculture...