The seasonal lull in VCU country has driven at least one new area business owner to reach for the bottle.
To get through the dog days between semesters, Unleashed Gourmet Hotdogs, which opened in April near the Siegel Center, last month began selling beer and wine.
“Sausages and hotdogs go well with beer,” manager Oleg Vaytser said. “It’s more traditional, and we’re hoping it brings in more sales.”
Vaytser, 46, and his wife, Galina, opened Unleashed four months ago, a month ahead of the end of the semester at VCU. Since the student body left for the summer, Vaytser said, business has been sluggish.
The couple moved from the then-Soviet Union to Mechanicsville in 1991. Vaytser spent 20 years working for Wendy’s, eventually becoming a district manager.
But opening and owning a restaurant has proven much riskier than managing them, Vaytser said.
“Here, you’re responsible for yourself, because it’s your money in the business,” he said. “The corporate pockets are a lot deeper than ours.”
Galina owns Unleashed but works full-time as an accountant. Vaytser said he handles the restaurant. His mother, son and daughter pitch in, too.
Menu items are named after dog breeds from around the world.
A Kavkaz Shepard is a lamb and beef sausage topped with marinated onion, cilantro and specialty tomato sauce. A Siberian Husky mounts Russian-style sauerkraut with onion, sunflower oil and Siberian mustard on a wienerwurst sausage. Most dogs cost $3.49.
The eatery has added chicken wings and shish kebabs to its menu since opening, but don’t expect to see hamburgers added. After working with patties for 20 years, Vaytser says they’re “unattractive.”
The restaurant seats 18 and allows takeout. It’s open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m.
Vaytser said the business is looking forward to basketball season at the Siegel Center. Students will be able to use RamBucks there in the fall, he said.