A Sam’s Hot Dog store will open in the old Fruit Grower’s warehouse in downtown Crozet in mid-October. Jeff and Donna Mahan of Crozet have taken over a space once occupied by Subway. They have gutted it and put in new floors, furniture, counters, bathrooms and kitchen equipment. The bright, clean décor follows in the franchise’s red, white and green colors, most noticeably in the distinctive basket-weave pattern of the floor tile.
Jeff Mahan said the store expects mainly grab-and-go customers for its $2 all-beef hot dogs, which feature a popular chili sauce that does not include beans. But the new space has half-a-dozen two- and four-person booths and a stand-up counter. Digital menus hang above the order counter and Mahan said he is thinking of offering a smart phone app that will allow customers to place orders for pick-up.
“The price will be as low as we can keep it,” he said. “We want people to feel they got their money’s worth and to be satisfied. Keep it simple and affordable. Good quality food quickly.”
Hot dogs will be cooked with an induction burner, which Mahan said use electro-magnetism to heat all of a pot, not just its bottom, and he has also installed a ventless fryer.
“Everything will be made fresh daily,” he said. The chili will be available in spicy and mild styles. Other toppings will include sauerkraut, cole slaw and pepper relish. “We have lots of different choices,” he said.
The store will also offer barbeque sandwiches, chopped, Texas-style with a tangy tomato base. Mahan said they are working on a vinegar-based style, too. Customary sandwich sides, like French fries, will also be offered, as will soups in the winter. “We’re trying to find things that are unique,” said Mahan.
They will be open for lunch and dinner hours, from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., seven days a week to start. At some point it will be closed on one day a week, probably Sunday.
Sam’s Hot Dogs was founded in West Virginia in 1991 by the former mayor of Waynesboro, Frank Lucente. There are now 44 stores in Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. The nearest other stores are in Waynesboro and Stuart’s Draft.
The Mahans have lived in Crozet since 2000 and chose to move here from Tidewater because they preferred it as a place to raise their family.
“I was looking for something new,” said Mahan. “I had been in restaurants. I wanted another opportunity. Sam’s gives you a lot of latitude. It’s not all cookie-cutter. There’s some structure and some autonomy so you can cater to your local clientele. We will carry what Crozet wants.”