Hot Tamale Louie Was Local Legend

Miniature of statue of Hot Tamale Louie to be placed in downtown Sheridan. (Courtesy photo)

Sheridan's Public Arts Committee is planning to buy a statue that will be placed in downtown Sheridan to honor one of the city's early day residents who became a legend. Sheridan Media reporter Pat Blair has the story.

His real name was Zarif Khan, and he came from a little village called Bara, near the Khyber Pass in the borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan. But he became known in his chosen home of Sheridan, Wyoming, as “Hot Tamale Louie” or Tamale Louie or Louie Tamale, and he earned fame for his hot tamales and his hamburgers.

Khan was the subject several months ago of an article in The New Yorker Magazine, and it's from there that the following information has been gleaned. Khan, or Louie, as he's better known, by 1907 had got himself to Bombay, where he boarded a ship to Seattle in the United States. From there he headed east, living for a while in South Dakota before coming to Wyoming, and to Sheridan, where he settled in 1909.

Here he started making and selling tamales. By around 1915 or '16, he opened a restaurant on Grinnell Avenue, now Grinnell Plaza, where he served, in addition to tamales, hamburgers, chili pie and ice cream in any flavor but chocolate. His tamales and his 'burgers both earned him fame.

Khan couldn't read or write English, and had no formal education, but he was frugal, focused and patient, and he became a wealthy man, though he didn't flaunt it except through his generosity, which also became legendary. He married in 1953 in Pakistan, and he and his wife had six children.

Hot Tamale Louie was murdered in 1964, knifed to death, and the killing shocked everyone. It was front-page above-the-fold news in Sheridan and made headlines throughout Wyoming, Colorado and South Dakota.

And a lot of people still recall Louie's hot tamales and hamburgers.

View another photo below.

Side view of statue of Tamale Louie. (Courtesy photo)