Food & Drink

Cranford Resident Celebrates 5 Years in Business & Family's Jimmy Buff's Tradition

Jimmy Buff's Kenilworth owner, Mike Loikith, working the kitchen. Credits: All photos by TAP INTO KENILWORTH staff.
The original sign from the Newark location now hangs in Kenilworth.
The original "Jimmy" and his family of Jimmy Buff's.
The original Jimmy Buff's location in Newark, NJ.
The famous "pizza bread" used to hold the Jimmy Buff's hot dog.
A full hot dog in the famous pizza bread pocket.
Jimmy Buff's hot dogs, potatoes, green peppers and onions cook together. 
Mike Loikith, owner of Jimmy Buff's, juggling numerous lunch orders. 

KENILWORTH, NJ – Mike Loikith makes his way easily around the Kenilworth kitchen of Jimmy Buff’s that he’s owned for the past five years, managing numerous orders and vendors during a busy lunch crowd. This is second nature to him, it should be, he’s been honing his craft since he was sixteen years old.

Loikith, now in his forties, a Cranford resident, husband and father, started out working alongside his grandfather at the former Jimmy Buff’s Scotch Plains location, and the rest is history. With just one brief stint in Corporate America, Loikith has been carrying on the famous Italian hot dog family tradition ever since.

Jimmy Buff’s was founded in 1932, by Loikith’s great-grandfather James (Jimmy) Racioppi, in Newark. Racioppi has been referred to as the original creator of the Italian Hot Dog, which was actually not intentional at first. Racioppi and his friends used to play cards in the basement of his home and his wife served snacks from any leftovers in the fridge, including peppers, onions and potatoes. She would add the vegetables to hot dogs and rolls, for a tasty combination. Jimmy’s friends enjoyed themselves so much they urged him to open a storefront.

Sign Up for E-News

The “Buff” part of the brand name, originated from Jimmy’s constant card “bluffing." According to Loikith, his great-grandfather’s Italian friends pronounced the word “bluff” as ”buff," and so Jimmy Buff’s Italian Style Hot Dogs and Sausages was coined.

Over the years, Loikith says that about 20 locations came and went as his great-grandfather and grandfather passed away, but his cousins Jimmy and Tommy still run a West Orange location and Loikith opened the Kenilworth storefront.

Recently Jimmy Buff’s was named one of the best hot dogs in the country by Yahoo! But notoriety is nothing new. Although Loikith is humble about it, the store has been recognized by many media outlets over the years, from Parade Magazine, to numerous local sources. One time Queen Latifah (a Newark native) even mentioned the hot dogs as one of her favorite indulgences during an interview.

During a recent visit to the hot dog haven, a soft drink vendor could be heard asking Loikith if he’s related to the founders of the Newark location. The owner quietly answered, “Yes, that was my great-grandfather." When the vendor continued to ask about his relation to the West Orange location too, Loikith added, “Yes, that’s my cousin."  The vendor shook his head up and down with a nod of respect; a testament to the tradition and the dogs.

We ask Loikith how a hot dog has lasted so long in a calorie-, health-conscious world. He attributes it to three main reasons: Quality, quantity and nostalgia.

“All of our ingredients are fresh and hand cut daily," he added. "Our bread is freshly baked every day. All our flavors are natural. No chemical engineering here. The hot dogs are all beef; the potatoes are fresh Idaho russet. We also give you a lot of food for your money. Where else can you get full for five dollars? And of course our history— we've been in business for 84 years. People remember coming as kids. They loved it back then and they love it now. It brings back a lot of great memories for them.”

Loikith orders about 2,000 hot dogs per week, and while that’s his bread and butter for the business, he also offers cheese steaks, chicken fingers, veggie sandwiches and burgers, too.

As the lunch crowd continues flowing, phone orders too, the customers are diverse. Because the local schools have a half day when we visit, kids fill the booths, but also grandmothers and grandkids, businesspeople during their lunch hour and a customer picking up a double dog and a few t-shirts for some Jimmy Buff’s fans he knows.

While culinary fads seem to come and go, Jimmy Buff’s is a landmark and not going anywhere anytime soon. The ancestors of the creator of the Italian Hot Dog keep serving them up daily right in Kenilworth at #506 on the Boulevard. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


NJ Flags to Fly at Half-Staff for Jerry Green May 7

April 24, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — Governor Phil Murphy issued an executive order on Monday for New Jersey flags to be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities on the day of the upcoming General Assembly session, scheduled for May 7, in memory of Assemblyman Jerry Green, former chair of the Union County Democratic Committee, who died last week.

On Thursday, Governor Murphy had said, ...

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting on April 24, 2018

April 26, 2018

Board President Gretchan Ohlig recognized Westfield High School senior Greta Frontero as 2018 New Jersey High School Journalist of the Year and winner of the 2018 Bernard Kilgore Memorial Scholarship, a $5,000 scholarship award from the New Jersey Press Foundation. Ms. Ohlig praised Ms. Frontero for her investigative reporting for Hi’s Eye, the school newspaper, and presented a ...

Upcoming Events


Fri, April 27, 10:00 AM

Westfield Memorial Library, Westfield

Westfield Memorial Library Spring Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment


Fri, April 27, 5:30 PM

Phillipsburg High School, Phillipsburg

Lance 47th Town Hall


Westfield Police Blotter: Two Reported Shopliftings & More

April 25, 2018

April 19, 2018 9:36 a.m.

Officer McCarthy arrested Paul S. Lee, age 36, of Ridgewood, NJ, at Westfield Police Department headquarters on the strength of an outstanding Westfield warrant in the amount of $89. Subject was processed and released after posting bail.


April 19, 2018 12:01 p.m.

A resident of Central Avenue reported being the victim of identity theft. Unknown actor(s) ...

Wine Tasting to Support the Center for Hope Hospice and Palliative Care

April 26, 2018

Annual Wine Tasting Supports the Center for Hope Hospice and Palliative Care The Center for Hope Hospice and Palliative Care Auxiliary is preparing for it’s Annual Wine Tasting with both a Silent and Live Auction to be held on May 20, 2018. The event will take place from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at 16 Prospect Wine Bar and Bistro located at 16 Prospect Street in Westfield. The tickets will be ...

Come Enjoy a Spring Concert with Westfield Public Schools

All concerts begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. 

3/27/18      RIS Chamber Music Night
4/24/18      WHS Chamber Music Night @ United Methodist Church
5/3/18        Franklin Advanced Band
5/5/18        WHS May-Hem
5/8/18        Wilson Band (date changed from 5/1/18)
5/9/18      ...

Plan for a Better Year

You survived another year’s tax filing — was the outcome what you expected? After looking at the results of this last year, and in light of the recent tax changes for this year, if you're concerned about getting the best possible results, why not reach out to me so we can take a look at planning possibilities together?


Call 908-935 -0181 and we'll get ...

Ways to Increase Your Home's Equity

Sometimes you forget and don’t realize your home provides so much to your life. It brings along with it your dreams of the future, shelter to you and your family, a way to provide a better lifestyle, a better commute, a neighborhood, schools, community involvement and recreational facilities. But it also provides a way to save for the future. It does this by allowing you to build your ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Why We Keep Kosher

Why We Keep Kosher

This week's parshah, Shemini, introduces the Torah's dietary laws. Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves to be kosher, fish need fins and scales, and a list of forbidden fowl is enumerated.

To those of us in Jewish education, it is a continuing source of disappointment that so many Jews still believe the kosher laws to be outdated.

Hellenic Therapy Center

April 13, 2018

Dropping Off Our Kids At College – Learning How To Adjust

Hellenic Therapy Center


Whether your kid is a freshman entering college for the first time or returning back to college, there are so many emotions we experience as parents.  There are differences in a parent’s reaction to the departure of a first child, an only child or even the last child.  Feelings ...


Oct 21, 1944 - Apr 14, 2018
Kathleen A. Hertell passed away peacefully with family at her bedside on April 14, 2018. Loving ...
Read more

New DMV Office To Open in South Plainfield May 14

April 26, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ — The new Department of Motor Vehicles Office in South Plainfield is scheduled to open May 14 at 5000 Hadley Road.

Mayor Anesh received the official notification from B. Sue Fulton, the newly sworn director of the state DMV announcing the opening.

"I would like to thank everyone who helped make this become a reality,"Anesh said. "This is a ...