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CLEVELAND - Cleveland has quite the foodie scene. Some options require you to stop what you're doing just to eat. That's not always an option in the midst of Cleveland's hustle and bustle. That's where Raymond Baker comes in.
"Ray" has worked for Lucky Dogs for 8 years. You may have seen him selling hot dogs in front of the Carl B. Stokes Public Utilities Building on Lakeside Avenue. These aren't just any hot dogs, though. Ray takes care in preparing not only his links, but the chili sauce and butter that make it a real meal. He even buys condiments on his own dime for his stand. He tells us he can't help but think about what's best for his customers, even on his own time.
Just steps away from our WKYC studios, Ray can be heard giving everyone a friendly hello. Many of his visitors are regulars, and they greet him with a similar warm welcome.
Ray's vendor career dates back to the 60's. His 50 years of experience has let him see much of Cleveland's history. Ray's journey started in 1964 when he was a teen, selling flags inside Cleveland Municipal Stadium. He worked his way up to selling hot dogs and beer. In 1964, Ray was in the thick of the explosive celebrations, as the Browns celebrated their last championship with the legendary Jim Brown.
When he finally was old enough to be a hot dog vendor in 1969, he set up shop in front of the Cleveland telephone company Ohio Bell. He was promoted to commissary manager, collecting money from other vendors selling the hot dogs. He would continue to work as a hot dog vendor at the Cleveland Municipal Stadium until it was demolished in 1996. Right after Ray retired.
Even retirement couldn't stop this "old dog". He started work back up at the stand he's at today. Since then, Ray has given important input like better uniforms, and credit card readers for each cart. Ray's taste for the hot dog even created a unique flavor for Lucky Dogs. His knowledge of the hot dog could even mean a Lucky Dog's special named after him the near future.
If you ask Ray what keeps him going everyday, he'll tell you the people of Cleveland are his inspiration. He has gout, which makes it tough to walk and use his hands. Nevertheless, he says the smile on Clevelanders' faces is always the best medicine.