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What do you think of a BBQ Dog?


IR Chef Salad
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Greetings eGulleteers!

As a long-since retired chef, I have lamented that the Richmond, VA area is lacking several important culinary comforts. Remarkably the two that I crave the most seem to go together very well: NJ style hot dogs and pulled pork bbq!

In doing some research, we have discovered that everyone who tries our BBQ Dog demands another...and another. The recipe is simple: we used several different hot dogs, but most tasters here chose Black Bear hot dogs. They have a bit of a crunch to them--not like most "southern" dogs. Each dog was flat grilled with a bit of butter.

Topping each dog was a good amount of pulled pork. My barbecue is good--really, I have done a pretty nice job of getting it right. Basically I rub pork shoulder-butts with a not-so-secret blend, and slow smoke over a mix of charcoal and hickory. The pork gets a mist of cider vinegar-apple juice-water every now and then, and they cook for about 15 hours. The meat is good, moist, flavorful, with a good smoke penetration. I make my own sauce (on the vinegary side) and we also used a good SC--style mustard based sauce that complimented the hot dog.

So, the dogs get bbq that has been lightly dressed in the sauce, and these are on butter grilled New England-style hot dog buns.

So...WHADDYA THINK? Will anybody drive 30 minutes to eat one of these things? We are in Henrico County...Richmond suburbs. We are tentatively calling the place

"Screaming Weenies" and we are in the process of copyrighting the name and a pretty cool logo. Imagine the T-shirts!!

Aloha and happy eating

Chef Salad

Edited by Gifted Gourmet (log)
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As a former RIC resident, I have a few questions:

1) Where in Henrico? It's a big county and I see variation in potential success based on location? Henrico does a big business in chain dining and I was never particularly impressed by the palates of the Richmond suburbanites (sorry if I offend).

2) Who's your target audience? Is there anyone doing anything remotely similar that can give you an idea of potential success? Melito's seemed to sell lot's of hot dogs and Buz & Ned's does a pretty good bbq business w/ good pulled pork. Unfortunately, the nasty Bill's bbq chain seems to do a good biz also so that doesn't say anything about bbq tastes of some Richmond residents?

3) How extensive a menu are you planning? Sit-down type of place or essentially a walk up counter w/ a few seats?

4) Do you want honest opinions about the potential of the restaurant or have you made up your mind and you are just trying to get the word out (which is totally fine and reasonable)?

Depending on your answer to #1, I'd probably swing by on my next visit back thru Richmond b/c of curiousity but you won't survive on my dining $$ alone.

edited to add:

I don't think a bbq-topped hot dog is a 30-minute destination meal for Richmond-ites. You'd need to have enough of an audience within 15 minutes (which is one cycle at a traffic light around Short Pump these days!).

Edited by dscott (log)
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We are in Short Pump, the home of total-chain dining. The key is that our potential location (still in negotiation) is very well situated among homes, businesses, and recreational facilities. Location is genearlly good.

As far as Richmond suburban dining--you are correct sir. I was an executive and sous chef in this area for about 17 years. My success was in balancing against the conservative "well-done filet" crowd (i.e. the MONEY crowd) with innovative dishes gleaned from new ingredients and ethnic cuisines. My last kitchen was The Track Restaurant in Carytown, and I managed to pull a few Top Five's in that location. So, I have an idea about what people will eat. But I am also retired from cooking, and currently teach at VCU. It is here that the call back to the business originated. As an amateur bbq competitition guy, more and more folks seemed to like our pork. I kept joking that all I really wanted to find a good hot dog stand. I drive to Newport News and Hampton to get my fix, and sometimes to Uncle Al's in VA Beach.

Once the proverbial collision between dog and 'cue was established, it became clear that there were fans of the subcultures around both of these roadside treats. In Richmond, there are plenty of BBQ fans, but they have no temple. Buz and Neds is good...not perfectly great...and an annoying location. Bill's simply sucks but still draws limeade fans--go figure. The Smokey Pig in Ashland is okay, but a bit pastey for me. The former standard had been Pierce's in Lightfoot. Still, we had a bunch of chain options (Memphis, Red Hot and Blue, Famous Daves) but the real BBQ geeks could not find a monument to their craving.

So...a few upwardly mobile West-enders have approached me about opening a bbq joint. Apparently they watch a bit too much Food Network, but the idea was still intriguing...and clearly remains so. They raised some capital...not close to sufficient...and asked what I thougt. At this point, my thoughts were that a great BBQ place in Short Pump would have to be a mill. Quality would not be enough; we would have to serve thousands of customers a week. This did not appeal to me.

But then the hot dog stand that I always wanted to open (sick, isn't it?) crept into my thoughts. An exagerated "stand" seemed reasonable, if we could get a great location. A permanent spot with a facility, but not a large restaurant. What we found was an end unit in a strip mall with a facing to both the parking lot and the rather impressive complex of the Tuckahoe Little League Fields. Nobody wanted the end unit for retail, so we are negotiating a good deal (hopefully) and TLL is intrigued by our proximity...we may be able to partner with them in promotions and sell our product to their events. In addition, this facility is used by other promoters for sporting events that we could cater to: hs sports, cross country meets, AAU, USSSA events, etc. It is not a bad collateral market.

But the BBQ dog has to be 2 things: delicious and marketable. We think it is. Oddly enough, we can't find any bbq places that do this, nor any hot dog places that make bbq. (we would have thought otherwise.)

So...we are teetering on the edge of this venture. The backers are still interested. The space can be easily expanded to add seats, and probably even a beer license. It remains to be seen if Richmonders care about this, but many of the new money in Short Pump is from out of town. Wyndham, Fox Hall, and Wellesley people are more and more from NC, NJ, Pennsylvania, and the DC area.

So...we may be a go, or we may be a no. But the opinion of food people is alway welcome and very important.

Thanks for you notice.

Best,

Chef Salad

One last point: we would sell hot dogs and bbq. Both would be complete with variation and delectable accoutrements. Both would be worth the drive, if hot dogs or bbq are your things. The bbq dog would be the unique point of sale, the t-shirt, the slogan. Not quite "Home of the Mammoth Burger" but you get the idea.

At minimum, with chopped onions and homemade slaw, it makes my Saturday afternoon lunches a messy and delicious affair.

aloha

1) Where in Henrico? It's a big county and I see variation in potential success based on location? Henrico does a big business in chain dining and I was never particularly impressed by the palates of the Richmond suburbanites (sorry if I offend).

2) Who's your target audience? Is there anyone doing anything remotely similar that can give you an idea of potential success? Melito's seemed to sell lot's of hot dogs and Buz & Ned's does a pretty good bbq business w/ good pulled pork. Unfortunately, the nasty Bill's bbq chain seems to do a good biz also so that doesn't say anything about bbq tastes of some Richmond residents?

3) How extensive a menu are you planning? Sit-down type of place or essentially a walk up counter w/ a few seats?

4) Do you want honest opinions about the potential of the restaurant or have you made up your mind and you are just trying to get the word out (which is totally fine and reasonable)?

Depending on your answer to #1, I'd probably swing by on my next visit back thru Richmond b/c of curiousity but you won't survive on my dining $$ alone.

edited to add:

I don't think a bbq-topped hot dog is a 30-minute destination meal for Richmond-ites. You'd need to have enough of an audience within 15 minutes (which is one cycle at a traffic light around Short Pump these days!).

Edited by Gifted Gourmet (log)
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I like the name and, upon greater description, I like the concept though I still struggle with whether it will or will not catch on in that neck of the woods. Nonetheless, there's certainly enough population density and it sounds like you'd be filling a price-point niche. Hot dogs are (relatively) inexpensive and that would help balance the more expensive bbq on the menu. [unrelated rant: I was always amazed at why people in Richmond thought that bbq should be cheap. Yes, the cuts may be inexpensive but good wood-smoked 'cue is a long-term labor and should not be compared w/ the dollar menu at fast food joints]

Obviously, the events crowds at the park will be your boom times but will "normal" people search out a really good hot dog in the Western 'burbs? I doubt that they'll seek out a good hot dog alone but I do think that they may search out a place pumping out good hot dogs AND good bbq. Frankly, I think that a good bbq place alone would stand a decent chance out there.

I do think the out of state "immigrants" are on your side. We have NY friends in Wyndham who are appalled at the options (read: chains) in the far far far West end. One reason we didn't move out there was because we wanted to be closer to the more varied dining options in the city.

I still wouldn't bet the farm (or your life savings) but if you have sufficient backing, I'd say it's worth a shot.

p.s. I always heard good things and wanted to try the Track but never did make it there due to the limited number of $$$ dinners we ate.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Chef Salad - you've got three customers right here in Glen Allen! My husband, daughter (a VCU student funnily enough) and me. We don't even bother to try to get bbq here in Richmond, we just buy a ton of it when we go to NC to visit family and stock our freezer. Mr. Kim says that Bill's is a monument to the Richmond credo that just because something has always been here, it must be good! We sometimes go to the Boardwalk for dogs and like that place very much. But it would be so wonderful to have a place like you are talking about near us. We are near the intersection of West End Drive and Hungary Rd., so we end up in Short Pump a lot. Keep us posted!! We are very interested!

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  • 2 months later...
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