Montgomery Business Journal

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Charles Lee MBJ

Adding Wings To Dogs

That’s My Dog expands menu options

September 2016
By David Zaslawsky 
Photography by Robert Fouts

One nearby resident promised to eat daily at That’s My Dog if the restaurant would add fish to its menu. His wait is over.

That’s My Dog owner Charles Lee bought two deep fryers for about $1,600 and he planned to relaunch his menu during a summer block party. “He’s pretty much the reason I got the fryers,” said Lee at his West Jeff Davis Avenue location.

With the new deep fryers, Lee is adding fish (catfish, whitefish and tilapia), wings, funnel cakes and deep-fried chili cheese dogs to the menu. The new menu will contain both fried and grilled fish options.

“The West Side – the people over here – definitely want wings,” said Lee, who gets requests daily for wings. He hopes that the expanded menu, which earlier had 39 items and 22 toppings, will increase sales by 20 percent. He is not sure if he will need to hire additional employees.

With help from his dad and mom, Lee has a hot dog cart on Dexter Avenue and operates the kitchen inside Ric & Mo’s on Watchman Drive, which already serves wings in addition to hot dogs.

Lee hopes to expand his food cart business downtown by adding three or four carts. “We are in the process now of trying to link up with some investors to lock down downtown with different carts – hot dogs, wraps, tacos,” he said. He would like to have a food cart on Commerce Street and one by the six-story Gordon Persons Building.

“The carts have a super low overhead and you don’t need to worry about location because if it’s not jumping you can go somewhere else,” he said. It’s also “super easy” to operate with all the ingredients in the cart.

The Dexter Avenue hot dog cart provides about 40 percent of his company’s revenue. He sells about 100 hot dogs on a typical day, which is 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. The average price of a hot dog is $3.

He became interested in a food cart business after seeing one years ago. “I’m downtown and I’m looking at the growth, but hey, there’s no outside carts and every city you go to downtown you can find a hot dog cart or something,” he said. He overcame various obstacles while working as a food server at Sa Za Serious Italian Food in The Alley and invested $4,000 for the hot dog cart. It took about three years to establish his business.

Yet that hot dog cart business helped him launch his restaurant about a year ago in a vacant building he leases from his church. Lee typically sells about 60 hot dogs at West Jeff Davis Avenue, which has seating for 19. Tuesdays are one of his busiest days because the 11,000 followers of the social media site Lunch in the Gump receive a 10 percent discount.

You can get free hot dogs – about 20 to 25 a day are given to a customer for a handshake or hug. He calls it a Jesus Dog and it’s every day.

The top-selling hot dogs are Gump Dog ($2.50), ASU Melt ($2.50) and King Sausage ($5.99). His menu also includes sandwiches and wraps, loaded fries and burgers.

“I think the unique thing about That’s My Dog is that we offer a variety of hot dogs,” Lee said. “You can get just a traditional hot dog or turkey or you can get beef or you can get chicken.”

The restaurant added cupcakes from Cheesecake Empori-Yum and sales are growing, but hot dogs generate 90 percent of all the company’s revenue, he said.

“Hot dogs are the most American food that you can get and I was just thinking at the time of starting a business,” Lee said when asked why he opened a hot dog business. “I wasn’t thinking – oh my God I really love hot dogs. I’m not really a huge hot dog fan.”

Name
That’s My Dog

Employees
6

Years in business
3

Locations
Three, including a hotdog cart on Dexter Avenue and inside Ric & Mo’s on Watchman Drive

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That’s My Dog Montgomery

41 Commerce Street, P.O. Box 79, Montgomery, Alabama 36101   Tel: 334.834.5200   Fax: 334.265.4745   Sitemap