I went to Gilley’s hot dog stand all the time in high school and college. On many a late night, Gilley’s was a refuge to those of us looking for those last-minute munchies. And I don’t even drink! Or do other things!

I realized one day, though, that I knew nothing about Gilley’s other than where it was, and that it was good. So, I lit up recently when I found a post on a Portsmouth community page delving into a history as rich as its hot dogs:

"For four decades, Ralph "Gilley" Gilbert (1908-1986) operated a hot dog cart in Market Square. Each evening, the dog cart was towed into the Square, and each time, Gilley paid a 50 cent fine for parking his cart in a restricted area next to the North Church. In addition to hot dogs, he served hamburgers, coffee, and the like to locals, servicemen and nighthawks…


In 1974, when Gilley planned to retire, city officials & members of the community organized a retirement party for him, naming it Gilley Day. About 2,000 people bought tickets to the event, which was held on August 26…


Gilley's final tow out of the Square occurred in the early hours of September 30, 1974. The Kennedy family had owned the dining cart, and afterward, the cart was moved to Fleet Street permanently, where the business has since changed hands, but it's still known today as Gilley's."

Portsmouth Athenaeum via J.D. Linoln via Facebook
Portsmouth Athenaeum via J.D. Linoln via Facebook

So how about that. There was an actual Gilley, and they threw him a retirement party and a parade and everything. And to this date, it still serves some of the best hot dogs in the Granite State.

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