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The man behind the Che-Chi stand

Published: Monday, March 17, 2008

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

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Dinn, who runs the Che-Chi stands, doesn't dwell on bad student behavior.

Che-Chi certainly has some good stories to tell. Stories that would make you laugh. Stories that would make you cringe. Stories that you would share with your friends at dinner. You know, stories about unruly college kids.

Like the time when a Newton Campus freshman was stranded outside the Mods at 3 a.m., looking for a way back to his room in Duchesne. The buses had stopped running, a taxi ride cost too much, and walking was obviously not an option. He did exactly what he thought was appropriate in that moment: hijack the Roggie's Pizza delivery car, drive back without getting caught, and then tell all of his friends about it.

Stories like that practically write themselves. In the search for something similar, Che-Chi was the obvious choice. He is, after all, a man who sells food to, as he puts it, "well-greased," college students every weekend of the year.

And when he says every weekend of the year, he's not exaggerating. It was a subzero Thirsty Thursday in the month of February, and nobody - not even Bear Grylls - could be found outside braving the cold. Nobody, that is, except for Che-Chi, huddled up against his grill in front of St. Ignatius Gate, with nothing on his hands but a pair of latex serving gloves.

"I come here every weekend regardless of the weather," he says. "Rain or shine. Rain. Or. Shine."

The face behind Che-Chi, otherwise known as Joe Dinn, most likely inherited that persevering quality from his Irish ancestry. Dinn's grandfather landed on Ellis Island around the year 1900 and was soon working on dredging operations up and down the Atlantic coast. Eventually, the tides brought him northward to clean out the Boston Harbor, and that's when he finally decided it was time to adopt the bean as his favorite side dish and settle in the Hub.

Grandpa Dinn was lucky enough to be there when the Red Sox won the World Series in 1918, but the dry spell of 86 years that would follow may have pushed the younger generations of the Dinn family out of fandom.

Although Joe still follows the Sox with some interest, his favorite sports team is by far the Patriots, and he never misses a game. Still distraught from the Super Bowl loss, Joe's only advice for next season is, "They got to keep Moss."

When it's not football season, Joe spends his free time surfing the Internet, watching movies, fishing off the General Edwards Bridge in Lynn, and biking around the North Shore. Regarding his biking, Joe usually starts out in Medford, passes through Swampscott, pedals up Route 1A into Gloucester, and then loops back home to Medford. All in all, that's a nice 50-mile trip, which means that Che-Chi would dominate in that 7:30 p.m. cycle class at the Plex.

How does Joe have so much free time on his hands? Well, he's currently retired. He used to be an assistant manager at Store 24 in Medford, but now he just works at the BC Che-Chi's stand on weekend nights for a little extra cash.

He does pretty good business, too, turning around about 35 pounds of Italian sausage per night on Lower Campus, and a slightly lower, but still robust, 20 pounds on Upper Campus.

"Boston is an Italian city, and people here love a good Italian sausage," he says, adding that a significant amount of the business comes from hungry students on their way back from downtown bars and clubs.

When discussing students, however, Joe wasn't too interested in discussing the dirty details of what his job has seen. "Let's not dwell on [bad behavior]," he says. "After all, Boston College students are generally very polite."

Over the course of 45 minutes in the freezing cold, he showed himself to be a man that was upbeat, outgoing, hard-working, and never without a good sense of humor.

Although the BC community may never hear the juicy gossip Joe has seen here, he proved himself to be a classy Bostonian.

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