The Original Hot Dog Shop in Oakland.
Photo by Tom O'Connor.

The Original Hot Dog Shop in Oakland is gone, but Mero Restaurant Group will try to fill the void with two new eateries at 3903 Forbes Ave.

Viva Los Tacos and Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop will open in the landmark building in the spring of 2021.

Mero, which operates the local restaurants CHiKN and Stack’d Burgers, is renovating the entire space down to the studs, but there are plans to incorporate elements of the former tenant into the final design.

Two of Mero’s four owners, Maurry Mendelovich and Jamie Rodgers, are University of Pittsburgh graduates who spent a lot of time at “the O,” a place known for its franks and mountainous servings of french fries. They will try to honor its 60-year legacy, which ended in April.

“Like the rest of Pittsburgh, we were sad to see such an iconic restaurant shut its doors,” Mero Restaurant Group Marketing Manager Samantha Barnes says. “Though the timing wasn’t the best, when the space opened up we were immediately interested. The location is one of the best in the city and we love the Oakland market.”

Viva Los Tacos, which will be located in the 3,500-square-foot first-floor space, will feature a variety of MexiCali street tacos, margaritas and tequilas. Customers can expect handmade tortillas filled with all-natural, cooked-to-order beef, chicken and fish, with fresh ingredients and spices and topped with a selection of several house-made salsas and chile sauces.

The specialty will be the Birria Taco made with slow-cooked Mexican spiced beef served on a crispy, cheesy tortilla with a consommé for dipping.

The 1,200-square-foot, second-floor concept, Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, is a national chain that started in Wilmington, Del. in 1976. The shop is known for its turkey subs, including its signature sandwich, The Bobbie, which is topped with cranberry sauce, stuffing and mayo. The menu also features cheesesteaks, meatball hoagies and vegetarian options.

Unlike Viva Los Tacos, Capriotti’s will not serve alcohol.

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.