After nearly four years dishing out hot dogs on the go, Robert Stout has found a place to park in one of Richmond’s most sought-after neighborhoods, though he’s hardly slowing down.
The Dog Wagon Carry-Out, the first brick-and-mortar offshoot of Stout’s Dog Wagon food truck, opened for business this week at 2930-C W. Broad St. in the Gather co-working building along the southern edge of Scott’s Addition.
“People had always said, ‘Hey, I missed you at your stop today, why don’t you open up a permanent location?’” Stout said. “Now we’re here.”
With about 1,100 square feet of space, the restaurant also doubles as The Dog Wagon’s prep space for its food truck, and provides storage space.
Stout would not say how much he spent on the new location, but said he completed most of the renovations to the space himself – helping him save on overhead costs.
The new restaurant offers more than a dozen hot dog and corn dog options, ranging from the Chicago Style to the Clayton Carolina Dog. The location also serves Boardwalk fries with a dash of vinegar and sea salt, along with root beer floats.
“When I opened this restaurant, I wanted to increase the options,” Stout said. “There’s something for everyone.”
The restaurant has limited seating, allowing Stout to build on the venture’s “to go” concept – and that involves working with a few of his boozy Scott’s Addition neighbors.
“We’ve set up a kiosk inside Three Notch’d Brewing Co. where people can walk up to the kiosk, order up an item on the menu and we will deliver it to the bar within 10 minutes,” Stout said of the brewery that recently opened elsewhere in the Gather building. “We’re killing two birds with one stone because the brewery doesn’t have to serve food – we do that for them – and their patrons don’t have to wander off to find something to eat.”
Stout said he is actively working with the neighborhood’s other breweries and cideries to place additional kiosks in their tasting rooms and event spaces – even purchasing a vintage three-wheel bike equipped with a rear basket to ship boxed goods to hungry patrons in the neighborhood.
“It’s been well-received at Three Notch’d,” Stout said. “So we’re hoping to continue that growth into the new year.”
Eventually, Stout is hoping to branch into other places of delivery – such as to apartment buildings and offices that are popping up in the district.
“How cool would it be to be watching the game at home, and instead of ordering a pizza, you order hot dogs that can be delivered within minutes to your front door?” Stout said. “The possibilities are great for growth.”
Stout is also cooking up a plan to franchise his truck and brick-and-mortar enterprises to other areas of the state.
“We have built such a loyal following that I’ve been receiving requests for our food trucks in other areas of the state and here locally,” Stout said, not disclosing where those requests are coming from. “It would be easier and more cost-effective to establish a franchise for the truck and restaurant business rather than me head everything myself.”
The Dog Wagon Carry-Out joins a growing menu of dining and brewing options in Scott’s Addition.
Local restaurateurs Jay Shah and Joel Gilbert plan to convert the former SunTrust branch at 3022 W. Broad St. into Statement Brewing Company, which will brew onsite and include a restaurant.
Work continues on Väsen Brewing Co. in the HandCraft building at 3331 W. Moore St., with the brewery scheduled to open by early 2017.
Elsewhere in the neighborhood, Ardent Craft Ales, Isley Brewing and Veil Brewing are open for business, along with cideries and other booze makers.
Opening The Dog Wagon Carry-Out restaurant brings Stout’s vision for his growing enterprise full circle.
A land planner by trade, Stout got into the food business when the economy took a hit. His son, who also developed the restaurant’s brand, suggested a food truck as a way of testing the market, and he was already a fan of hot dogs.
Drawn to Scott’s Addition’s burgeoning craft beer and cider scene, Stout, who signed a three-year lease on his building, said he’s in it for the long-haul.
“This is such an exciting neighborhood compared to what it used to be,” Stout said. “To see people walking their dogs, running, taking their children on walks…it says a lot about the health of this neighborhood, and I’m glad that we’re going to be a part of the area’s growth.”