Northwestern Press

Thursday, May 28, 2020
PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIERYocco’s third generation owner Gary Iacocca at ArtsCount 2017. The “Hot Dog King” was one of the sponsors for the Lehigh Valley Arts Council’s event at the National Museum of Industrial History, Bethlehem. Copyright - © Ed Courrier PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIERYocco’s third generation owner Gary Iacocca at ArtsCount 2017. The “Hot Dog King” was one of the sponsors for the Lehigh Valley Arts Council’s event at the National Museum of Industrial History, Bethlehem. Copyright - © Ed Courrier

Yocco’s takes it out in stride to serve Valley customers

Friday, May 22, 2020 by ED COURRIER Special to The Press in Focus

Restaurants across Pennsylvania had to shutter their dining areas after Gov. Tom Wolf’s March 16 statewide closure of non-essential businesses in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

To keep restaurants afloat while protecting workers and customers, eateries were permitted to continue offering take-out and delivery.

Yocco’s third generation owner Gary Iacocca and his employees acted swiftly to meet the challenge.

Upon hearing news of the developing pandemic in February and early March, Iacocca says, “We started to circle the wagons real quick and make sure that we were protecting our employees from whatever was about to happen.”

This included shutting down inside dining and ramping up hand-washing, surface sanitation and other measures, including employee temperature checks, two weeks before the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) released its safety guidelines.

“We did everything to protect our employees first, then ultimately our customers,” says Iacocca.

Losing the ability to serve dine-in customers has been difficult.

“It’s a big hit to the sales,” says Iacocca.

Prior to the pandemic, business was around 50-50 drive-through and takeout versus dine-in clientele.

Drive-through customers generally purchase smaller orders than those who walk into the restaurant for carry-out.

“When people came inside our business, they tended to get bigger orders,” Iacocca says.

While workers wear disposable masks and gloves, customers are asked to wear a mask when picking up their food.

“We have to educate a lot of our customers,” says Iacocca, who advises customers to find creative ways to cover their faces when picking up their orders.

Although business hours have been adjusted to cope with the coronavirus, Iacocca says that Yocco’s is determined to keep its full-time employees working, even though the “Hot Dog King” is losing money. So far, “We can handle that,” Iacocca says.

“We were able to adapt enough to be able to stay in business, but it hurt,” Iacocca adds.

The regionally-famous hot dog establishment was founded by Theodore Iacocca in 1922 in center city Allentown. Iconic auto industry CEO Lee Iacocca was his nephew.

“Yocco” was how the Pennsylvania-Dutch pronounced the family’s Italian last name. Although the original location was closed in 2016, there are six Yocco’s located throughout the Lehigh Valley. Corporate headquarters occupies a former Rodale Press building in Emmaus.

Drive-through only service is offered at Yocco’s Emmaus, Trexlertown and Fogelsville locations.

Carry-out fare is available at the Hamilton Street, Catasauqua Road and South Mall restaurants.

Weiners topped with Yocco’s “world famous Secret Recipe Chili Sauce” is the restaurant’s signature dish. Cheesesteaks, burgers and pierogies can also be found on the menu, among other popular comfort food.

Information: www.yoccos.com