'The Very Best': How a retro restaurant with a 100-year history stays fresh in Pennsylvania

ByMatteo Iadonisi Localish logo
Monday, November 13, 2023
The Very Best restaurant has been a Pottstown staple for 100 years
A blend of retro charm and modern evolutions helped 'The Very Best' hot dog shop earn its title over the last 100 years!

POTTSTOWN, Pa. -- Josh Souders can remember a time when cruising through Pottstown in your favorite car was all the rage.

But even 'The Very Best' restaurant has seen earlier days of the Montgomery County town.

It was first started in 1921 by an immigrant from Greece as a shoe-repair shop.

Hot dogs were introduced as a way to keep customers entertained while they waited. The restaurant's name adopted the brand name of their hot dogs: 'The Very Best'.

It soon became a staple of the community.

But skipping nearly 100 years ahead, the shop was soon to become nothing but a memory. Then, Souders stepped in.

"An ad for this place came up from the real estate agent. So, I came in and none of the electric was working and the ceiling had all fallen down on this side," said Souders. "It was in some sad shape, but it was still salvageable and it had all the main ingredients."

Some of those main ingredients included orange booths and a countertop with spinning stools.

"I said I got to do this," said Souders. "I have to save this for everyone. If not, just for myself."

Today, The Very Best looks a lot like it did for much of its history, featuring jukeboxes at the tables and hot dogs on the grill.

But Souders' own personal touch came in the form of an arcade room. It makes him nostalgic for the era in which he grew up visiting the shop.

It has turned out to be a recipe for families coming back year after year since 2019.

"I've been going to The Very Best probably for 60 years," said Pottstown native Carol Balog. "So, I know a lot of people in town and there's always somebody I run into."

Souders hopes his passion will pair with the community's support to keep the doors open for another hundred years.

"Every time someone comes in here, there's always a story they want to hear or tell, and quite often they relate to my own," he said. "I don't plan to give it up for a while. So, as long as I can, I'll be here."