Sam’s Hot Dog Stand reopened in the Old Town Shops in downtown Crozet in July under new ownership and the daily management of Charlie Mayer, who long-time Crozetians will remember for his own place, Uncle Charlie’s Smokehouse, which operated in the 1990s out of the current Mudhouse location. Charlie has been in Florida for a few years, but has come back to Crozet.
The new owners are Mary Piepenbrink and Tom Hissam of Wilmington, North Carolina, where they also own a Sam’s franchise. They aim at acquiring others and now also own stands in Salem and Christiansburg.
The company was founded by former Waynesboro mayor Frank Lucente and now has 53 locations in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia.
“All our stores are about being a hot dog stand,” said Piepenbrink. “It’s a simple menu. It’s back to the original idea. We’ve known Frank and his wife for 30 years. We’ve watched his model and we’ve talked about it for a long time. We opened in Wilmington and we definitely want to expand.
“I’ve known about Crozet for 20 years and I have a fondness for it, so I let Tom make the decision. This store has a following already, so it’s a super way to step in. I love it here. My heart gets in the way where Crozet is concerned.”
Both Piepenbrink and Hissam, who are married, have MBAs. “We looked at the numbers carefully and bought the store. We’re not here to flip it. We have to get it out there. We don’t have the fries any more. We’re going back to chips, and we have chocolate and vanilla shakes and sweet tea. It’s only quality ingredients.”
The hot dogs are all-beef, made in Kansas City, said Piepenbrink. Dogs are $2.25 each. They also offer a Carolina-style barbeque sandwich, for $3.50, with the pork provided by a North Carolina producer. A “family bag” of 12 dogs with chips and drinks goes for $32.
“This is our only store without a drive-through. It’s walk-up. It’s more social. We want a great, consistent product and we’re always super clean.”
Store hours are 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays and 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.