10 Questions about Tasty Dog with Kevin Lee
1. Tell us about Tasty Dog.
We operate a hot dog stand that serves some really unique dogs, along with sausages, Italian beef, grilled chicken sandwiches and a number of other items.
We're a family owned business run by Navy Veterans.
We're located on the Naval Air Station Jacksonville Monday - Friday.
…when did Tasty Dog open?
We opened for business during the summer of 2006.
…has the concept stayed the same, or changed over the years?
At first we sold hot dogs and sausages with standard toppings. As customers started asking for additional toppings we listened and started offering more unique toppings. Now we've grown to have 27 different toppings and 20 specialty dogs.
…what other types of sandwiches?
Chicago style Italian beef, mesquite grilled chicken, pulled pork just to name a few.
…what's Italian beef?
It's a Chicago thing. Because my wife's from Chicago we decided to put a little Chicago twist on our cart and we started carrying Italian beef. It's a very thinly sliced beef cooked in a broth with Italian seasoning and sweet green peppers. We take Italian bread or a hoagie and drizzle the juice on the bread, fill it in with the meat, dress it with the peppers, top it off with more juice and wrap it up. I'm telling you, it's awesome. It's a regular item for us now.
…and the chicken?
We use mesquite grilled chicken. We serve it in either a hoagie or burrito wrap with peppers and onions, or cheese, lettuce, ranch dressing, bacon, and tomatoes or any one of our other toppings.
2. What makes Tasty Dog special?
First and for most, we LOVE what we do! Our commitment is to provide good quality food with excellent customer service. When most people think of a hot dog cart they think of New York and hot dogs with the standard toppings. We wanted to take our cart to another level by offering our customers over 27 different toppings. We believe in being flexible, by adjusting our menu according to the seasons, as well as listening to what our customers want.
3. You offer hot dogs from Nathan's and sausages from Azar's - why did you choose these?
We serve Azar sausage because they are made locally by a small family owned business and we believe in supporting local businesses. Azar sausages are a higher quality and leaner product than other bands. We serve Nathan’s Hot Dog because they are 100% All Beef and gluten free.
4. Can people choose between a hot dog or sausage for any of your items?
Yes! Our number one goal is customer satisfaction. They can have any one of the 20 Specialty Dogs with a sausage or hot dog. And they can try our topping combinations or they can create their own. We have a saying "go mild or go wild, it's your choice”.
5. Can you tell us about some of your toppings?
We have over 27 different topping for our 20 Specialty Dogs - from the standard ketchup, mustard, relish, and onions, to coleslaw, sauerkraut, chili, red onion sauce, ranch dressing, BBQ sauce, Chicago relish, fried onions, bacon and many others.
…what's the most popular topping?
We have several: Tasty Mustard (spicy), chili, red onion sauce and our honey mustard.
…do you make your own toppings?
Yes, we make several of our toppings, such as our own spicy mustard that we call “Tasty Mustard.” A customer brought us some NY style spicy mustard and we loved it. Since NY is so far away we decided to try and make our own. After doing some experimenting we were able to develop our own spicy mustard. Our customers really seem to like it. The other toppings we make are chili, red onion sauce and honey mustard. We also make our own hot sauce using all natural ingredients. We make a sweet sauce with a bite, which is our original, and then we have a hot sauce, for those who like it hot!
…you sell bottles of your sauce on the cart?
Yes, we have people who come by regularly and buy a couple of bottles for the weekend.
6. What's been the biggest surprise with running Tasty Dog?
Meeting people from all over and learning the different ways people eat hot dogs.
7. What do you enjoy the most about running Tasty Dog?
Our valued customers.
8. Can you tell us about your background?
My wife and I are both veterans. We both have experience in the food industry from food prep and customer service to management.
9. Do you have a regular location where people can find you or do you move around a lot?
We are on NAS Jacksonville Monday to Friday over by the Auto Port. On weekends you can find us somewhere around town by joining our Fan Page on Facebook and following us.
10. Can you tell us a little about your catering for special events?
We do all sorts of events. We can serve our regular menu or adjust it to fit your needs.
…what sorts of events do you typically cater?
NFL football games, college games, private parties, farmer's markets, festivals, car shows and charity events.
…what has been the biggest event you've ever catered?
We have served over 700 out of crowds in excess of 8,000 to 9,000 (Florida vs Georgia college game). Second was a private elementary school - we prepared and served over 600 hot dogs in 3 hours.
…that's a hot dog every 20 seconds!
Yes, I know! I was cooking 100 hot dogs at a time. The school was having a New York theme day event and wanted a NY style hot dog stand to give the students a feel for the city. We had to fit into their class schedule. When they broke for lunch we were their lunch. It was a lot of work but we had a lot of FUN!