Big Easy lunchtime staple Dat Dog, which originally opened in a ramshackle building on New Orleans's then-budding Freret Street in 2011 from business partners Constantine Georges and Skip Murray, is heading to Houston in 2018.
Since those early days as a tiny weenie shop, the restaurant has expanded with four locations and a food truck in New Orleans, and seen its share of controversy — Murray sold his Dat Dog shares and opened his own rival burger and hot dog restaurant, Dis & Dat, in 2014.
Today, Dat Dog is headed up by Bill DiPaola, president and COO of Dat Dog Enterprises.
The company will be going hard with 25 restaurants planned for Houston via franchisee group B&G Food Enterprises, LLC. What this all will mean to Houston's JCI Grill (formerly James Coney Island) is anybody's guess.
Dat Dog's menu features interesting options including crawfish and alligator sausages, vegan and vegetarian hot dogs, brats, numerous toppings from wasabi mayo to red beans and rice, great hand-cut fries and a killer beer selection.
In New Orleans, Dat Dog is known for hosting all sorts of events at its various locations, which all include some form of outdoor seating, including a great balcony and beer garden-style seating. Sounds like Houston's location will be much the same, as a press release notes that "for franchisees, Dat Dog will offer flexible concepts for restaurants, including indoor/outdoor dining, areas for live music, biergartens or art markets, endcaps, free-standing buildings, universities, or other retail environments."
The weenie empire is also hoping to expand to Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and the Florida panhandle, and already has locations planned for Baton Rouge and Lafayette.
The news of Dat Dog's expansion to Houston comes hot on the heels of fellow New Orleans exports hitting town, including steakhouse Doris Metropolitan and a coffee franchise, PJ's. Celebrity chef John Besh will also open a restaurant in River Oaks by 2018 as well.