Hi Everyone. I am a new user to this site, but not new altogether. My name is Brent and I am the owner of Big Daddy's Dogs. I have been on here many times to read all the hot dog related posts. I love to read all the comments about the many great hot dog places in NJ and everywhere else. And of course the ones about Big Daddy's. I will admit that I finally signed up on this site because I recently opened a new location in Pompton Lakes and thought this would be a great forum to make that known. Some quick information for those of you that may not have been to Big Daddy's yet. We are a "dirty water" dog establishment and use 12/1 all beef Sabrett dogs. At Big Daddy's, it's really about what goes on the hot dog, and we have a lot of choices there. I charge $1.80 (includes tax) for a plain dog. However, I also charge the same price for a dog with any combination of the following toppings: sauerkraut (regular or homemade spicy), relish (sweet or spicy), cooked red onion (sweet or homemade spicy), raw onion, cheese, and potato. For an additional $.20 you can add a slew of other toppings, including chili, chopped bacon, and homemade coleslaw. Also, I have a list of 13 specialty dogs including the taco, slaw, and the loaded potato skin for only $2.00. Oh yeah, and don't forget about the many different bottles of hot sauce.
Welcome to Roadfood. I have been to your place in Little Falls, but I don't know if I met you or someone else, a partner perhaps. I was with the Star Ledger's Munchmobile team in 2006. Your dogs were liked by the team overall and finished 3rd in it's category of dirty water dog behind Donny's Dogs and Tony's Truck. Personally, and I say this respectfully, I didn't care for your dogs and I'll tell you why. We sampled franks from over 87 places. Many were dirty water Sabretts. When judging this type of dog, I look for 3 things that set one apart from another. These things are important to me. One is natural casing. A dog like Donnie's, while a good size at 10 to a lb, is skinless and lacks the snap of a natural casing. I'll always rate a dog with a casing over a skinless dog, except in the case of an Italian Hot Dog. Your dogs had a nice snap.
Second thing is if the dog is served hot enough. I don't like dogs served warm. At your place, my dog wasn't served hot enough, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt because I was the first one in and everyone else had dogs that were hot. The third thing is size. For me, the best size for a dirty water dog is 8 to a lb. I love the dogs at Jerry's in Elizabeth, not only because of their size, but I prefer Best's to Sabrett's, and until recently, these dogs were $1.50 plain or with toppings. Now they are $1.75, which is still a decent value for an 8 to a lb dog plain or with any combinations of toppings. These dogs are so good, I get them with just mustard. However, with a Sabrett dog, the casing isn't tight enough on an 8 to a lb dog, so I prefer a 10. Anything smaller in my opinion is too small.
I appreciate your honesty in stating "at Big Daddy's it's really about what goes on the hot dog." For many people this is the case. Which is why your place came in 3rd and Donnies came in 1st. The two of us on the panel who place the emphasis on the dog rather than what goes on it, both picked Jerry's for 1st place. Now I'm not against some toppings, but I believe they should complement rather than mask the flavor of the dog. Occasionally I have a chili dog or a mild tasting ripper from Rutt's Hut with their unique relish. But 90% of the time I have my hot dog with mustard only. I love the flavor of a quality frankfurter, served hot with a natural casing. At a good size. And ideally at a good price. Although some people love hot sauce, I feel they don't belong on a hot dog. They are overpowering (Colon Cleanser?!) and mask the flavor of the dog. You might as well use a cheap Bar S dog. Again, this just represents my opinion and those of some hot dog lovers who I consider traditionalists or bare bones. You are in business to make money and there are all kinds of tastes. I'm sure there are many kids (and some adults) who come in and demand ketchup to desecrate their hot dog. If you won't give it to them, someone else will.
If I go to a place like yours that offers a lot of toppings, I'll just order a dog with mustard. I might have a chili dog on occasion if the chili is good. Even at Amazing Hot Dog, which in my opinion has the best homemade toppings, I get a dog with mustard most of the time. But a pet peeve of mine is when someone serves a tiny dog (smaller than 10 to a lb), especially when they charge as much, or in your case more than what others are charging for a bigger dog. Granted, most of your customers may not notice, but many people, especially those who read and contribute to this site do.
Assuming that your dogs are served consistently hot (which I've been told) and knowing that they have a casing, and are a quality brand, I would say that I could go and enjoy a couple of dogs there. But when there are places like Dee's in Roselle Park that serve a 10 to a lb dog and charge $1.50, guess where I'm going? Even though I prefer the 8 to a lb Best dog served at Jerry's, I get a craving for a spicy Sabrett now and then. But I refuse to buy a tiny cocktail frank when there are bigger dogs to be had that are less expensive.
As a serious hot dog lover what I would look for in a new place would be a quality natural casing dog served hot and no smaller than 10 to a lb and no more expensive than $1.75. $1.80 for a 12 to a lb dog plain is too expensive. I can understand charging more for toppings (even though others don't) but if someone doesn't want toppings, why charge the same price?
Boulevard Drinks in Jersey City is the one exception where I'll go out of my way for a 12 to a lb Sabrett. But here it is prepared on a griddle, which imparts more flavor than a pot of water, and the last time I was there, it cost $1.25. Since Papaya King came to New Jersey serving 10 to a lb Sabretts on a griddle, I stopped going to Boulevard Drinks as often. And you can get these dogs for 99 cents for a 2 or 3 hour "Happy Hour" period in the afternoon.
Even though I won't patronize your new place (unless you offer a bigger dog and/or lower your price) I wish you luck. There are probably enough people out there who agree that "it's what goes on the dog" that's more important than what I stated.