Rippers and Relish: The Rutt’s Hut Legacy

World Famous Deep-Fried Hot Dogs Since 1928!

by Mike Ham
Rutt's Hut

As a proud New Jerseyan, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting countless local establishments, but few hold as much historical and cultural significance as Rutt’s Hut in Clifton. Recently, I had the honor of sitting down with Billy Chrisafinis, one of the pillars behind this legendary eatery, for an episode of the Greetings From the Garden State podcast. What unfolded was a story of tradition, community, and unwavering dedication to quality that has kept Rutt’s Hut at the forefront of New Jersey’s culinary scene for nearly a century.

A Taste of History

Rutt’s Hut, established in 1928, is more than just a hot dog joint; it’s a beacon of nostalgia and tradition. From its humble beginnings to its current status as a beloved institution, Rutt’s Hut has continually adapted while remaining true to its roots. Billy shared fascinating stories of the early days and how the establishment has evolved over the decades, serving locals in a welcoming environment.

Homemade Delicacies

One of the hallmarks of Rutt’s Hut is its commitment to homemade food. Billy passionately described the meticulous process of preparing their signature items: the homemade rice pudding, bread pudding, chili, and of course, the iconic Ripper. Unlike many modern eateries that rely on pre-packaged ingredients, Rutt’s Hut takes pride in crafting everything in-house, from slicing their roast beef to grinding their own meat for the chili. This dedication to quality is palpable in every bite and is a testament to the integrity of the establishment.

Navigating Challenges

Like many businesses, Rutt’s Hut faced significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The dining room, usually bustling with loyal patrons, fell silent. However, the resilience of the Rutt’s Hut team shone through. They adapted by focusing on takeout and ensuring that the community still had access to their favorite comfort foods. Despite the difficulties, Rutt’s Hut continued to thrive, proving that their bond with the community was unbreakable.

A Community Staple

Rutt’s Hut isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a cornerstone of the Clifton community. Billy spoke fondly of the regulars who have been coming for decades, some even spanning generations. The camaraderie between the patrons and the staff is palpable. It’s a place where people come not only to eat but to connect, to reminisce, and to create new memories.

Looking to the Future

While Rutt’s Hut remains steeped in tradition, Billy and his team are always looking toward the future. They have dreams of expanding their reach, possibly shipping their famous relish and chili across the country. However, Billy is adamant that any expansion must be done right, maintaining the high standards that have defined Rutt’s Hut for nearly a century.

An Invitation to Experience Rutt’s Hut

For those who have yet to experience the magic of Rutt’s Hut, Billy’s advice is simple: start with a Ripper, topped with their homemade relish and mustard. Pair it with their legendary onion rings and finish with a serving of homemade rice pudding. And remember, it’s cash only, just like it has been since 1928. An ATM is available on-site for those who come unprepared.


Rutt’s Hut is more than just a dining destination; it’s a living piece of New Jersey’s culinary history. My conversation with Billy Chrisafinis highlighted the passion and dedication that goes into every dish served at this iconic establishment. Whether you’re a lifelong patron or a first-time visitor, Rutt’s Hut offers a unique and authentic taste of New Jersey’s rich culinary heritage. Come for the food, stay for the stories, and become part of a tradition that has stood the test of time.

About the Author/s

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Mike Ham is the voice behind the popular podcast, "Greetings From the Garden State". Traveling up and down New Jersey, Mike brings his listeners the stories of the people and places shaping the Garden State. Not only is he a Jersey diehard, he is also a respected member of the podcast community and has spoken at several podcasting conferences. As he continues to amplify the voices of New Jersey, Mike Ham remains a passionate advocate for the diverse narratives woven into the fabric of the Garden State.

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