Article on 3 Georgia Hot Dog classics with appropriate credit to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution and Cox News Service:
Frankly, you can't beat these Georgia hot dog joints
By WILLLIAM SCHEMMEL
FOR COX NEWS SERVICE
You're driving through Georgia on a brisk autumn day. It's lunchtime. Hunger sparks a nostalgic memory of the old corner diner, where the hot dogs were draped with top-secret chili, coleslaw or special sauce. It's a siren song to your palate, and suddenly you need to answer the call.
If you're driving near Macon, Columbus or Cartersville, you're in luck. You can.
Now the rest of us know Macon's secret: Nu-Way Weiners aren't merely "The Best in Town" — their motto — they're among the elite from east to west. Gourmet magazine ranked Nu-Way No. 5 among the nation's Top 10 wiener palaces. Southern Living has sung its praises. Even Money magazine listed it among "America's Top Dogs," and PBS featured the 11-link Macon chain in a documentary about this all-American treat.
The dictionary spells it "wiener," but Nu-Way has spelled it "weiner" and made them Macon's way since 1916, when Greek immigrant James Mallis opened his shoebox-shaped storefront at 430 Cotton Ave. and addicted Maconites to his franks in a steamed bun, with mustard, onions, secret-recipe chili and medium-wattage barbecue sauce.
Three generations later, partners and cousins Spyros Dermatas and Jim Cacavias are preparing their private-label pork-and-beef "weiners" the tried-and-true way in the original 39-seat diner, which has changed only marginally through the years, and 10 other locations in Macon, Warner Robins and Fort Valley.
The original Nu-Way is at 430 Cotton Ave. at Cherry Street in downtown Macon. 478-743-1366.
Lieutenant's Scrambled Dog
Lieutenant Stevens serves hundreds of tasty, messy Scrambled Dogs six days a week at Dinglewood Pharmacy in Columbus. A hot dog and bun are split and splayed in a banana split dish and piled with dill pickles, mustard and cheese. Then the tour de force — a meaty, beany, rich, red flood of Lieutenant's special chili — fills the dish and drips over the sides. On top of that goes a shower of oyster crackers. With plenty of napkins and a spoon (to scoop up the tangy chili), you're ready to dig in.
Lieutenant — that's the first name on his birth certificate — was born on Nov. 12, 1931, the day after Armistice Day (now Veterans Day). "They decided to name me in honor of the military," Stevens says of his parents. When he was 14, he went to work for Henry "Sport" Brown, the Scrambled Dog's creator. When Brown died in the 1950s, Stevens took over, tweaked the recipe and has been satisfying Columbus' craving ever since.
Patrons who were children when they tasted their first Scrambled Dogs come back to introduce them to their children and grandchildren. Mondays through Saturdays, patrons fill and refill the dozen counter stools, five tables and five booths.
"Lots of folks ask for my chili recipe," Stevens says with a smile, "but it's a home recipe and I don't give it. They have to come here to enjoy it."
• Dinglewood Pharmacy is at 1939 Wynnton Road, Columbus. 706-322-0616. From Atlanta, take I-85 to I-185 Exit 6 / Macon Road and go west. Macon Road becomes Wynnton Road, and Dinglewood is on the right, five minutes from the interstate. Scrambled Dogs are dished up 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 11 a.m.-4.30 p.m. Saturdays. "Unscrambled" dogs (a regular hot dog) and chili by the bowl are also served. Mayfield ice cream and milkshakes make cooling palate-cleansers.
If your neighborhood diner burned to cinders, would you pitch in to put your favorite comfort food back on the counter? You'd probably dig deep if the diner was as beloved as 4-Way Lunch in Cartersville.
On June 23, 1993, an after-midnight fire devastated the 62-year-old downtown landmark. Then came the really bad news: Owner Ernest Garrison, whose father opened the place in 1931, lacked insurance to rebuild.
Aghast at the prospect of never again hearing the counter crew's friendly chat as it serves plates of hot dogs, hamburgers and french fries sloppy with onion gravy or chili, the 4-Way's friends came to the rescue. Electricians and carpenters worked for free, and donations poured in from as far away as the Carolinas and the Midwest. Two months after the fire, 4-Way Lunch reopened and it was business as usual.
Lawyers, ditch-diggers, cops, clerks, City Hall and courthouse minions and even tourists keep the 4-Way's 11 stools occupied from 5:30 a.m., when the doors open, to 3 p.m., when they close.
The onion gravy and chili are still tangy, the experience still a bargain. A loaded hot dog or hamburger is $1.50, a pile of fries $1. If you've been in a few times, they put in your "usual" as soon as you show your face.
It's very friendly, but the sign behind the counter advises: "This isn't Burger King. You don't get it your way. You get it our way, or you don't get the damn thing."
4-Way Lunch is at Main and Gilmer streets in downtown Cartersville, 50 miles north of downtown Atlanta. No phone. Open 5:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays. From I-75, take Exit 288 / Cartersville Main Street and drive 5 minutes. The bright red 4-Way Lunch building is on the left as you come into town.