Episode 9

June 15, 2023


Hotdogs! Get Your Hotdogs! Lee Pantazis of Gus's Hotdogs

Hosted by

Dr. Chase Horton
Hotdogs! Get Your Hotdogs! Lee Pantazis of Gus's Hotdogs
Discover Birmingham
Hotdogs! Get Your Hotdogs! Lee Pantazis of Gus's Hotdogs

Jun 15 2023 | 01:01:27


Show Notes

Get ready for a tasty episode! Join your Birmingham Realtor, Dr. Chase Horton, as he sits down with Lee Pantazis, the owner of Birmingham's famous Gus's Hotdogs. Gus's is the last remaining Greek-owned hotdog spot downtown, and let me tell you, business is booming! Lee's love for our beautiful city shines through as he spills the beans on the absolute best places to grab some grub and quench your thirst in Birmingham. You won't want to miss this mouthwatering conversation!


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Get Gus's Hotdogs catered to your next tailgate

Check out Quacksdogs next time you're in Oxford, MS

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:25 Made me cry Speaker 2 00:00:27 In Greek. It's Ponzi, so, okay. Uh, it's we're Spartan and it, it was like a war cry of returning soldiers, which is like, if you went and fought in a battle and came back alive, they'd be like, Panta Panta. And it's like eternal life calling people immortal. Speaker 3 00:00:42 So Penasas is a Spartan name. Yeah. That's awesome. I'm actually reading this book right now called Gates of Fire. Are you familiar with that? No. Oh my gosh. One of my friends recommended it to me because I've always been a reader of non-fiction. Yeah. But I was like, you know, I want to dabble in a little bit of fiction before bed. I want something that I can read. This may be a little bit lighter. This is not it. No, this book is, is so intense and it's disturbed me at a level that I didn't know that I could be disturbed because it's about the Spartans. And if it was just about, you know, warrior on warrior killing action, I could handle that. No, this, but no, it goes into way too much detail about the women, the children, and, and all the extracurriculars of war. And it's, I had to put it down. Yeah. It was intense. The very good though, Speaker 2 00:01:27 The Spartan culture as a whole was built around intense violence and slavery. That was their, that's how they were successful. They were intensely violent. They were a warrior people. And it's why you don't see much of their culture surviving. It doesn't have a place in modern society. Speaker 3 00:01:45 Yeah. How accurate do you think the depictions of the Spartans were in movies? Like 300? You know, of course that one's gonna be like a comic in a way. I think they Speaker 2 00:01:53 Were probably a little bit soft. Speaker 3 00:01:54 The movies. Yeah. Really? Yeah. So you think it was more intense than the movies? Speaker 2 00:01:58 I mean, at a certain point they threw infants off mountains that weren't their idea of perfect. True. And you know, at 13, they sent their kids into the AGI to basically train at a warrior level. Right. I think, uh, there's this common misconception that people didn't live long, and that's really not the case. There was a higher infant mortality rate, which brought down average life expectancy women, child, uh, died and childbirth, giving childbirth, and again, lowered life expectation. But if you made it to 13, 14, like the odds of you making it to adulthood were pretty strong. And then once you made it to adulthood, it was just a matter of surviving war. And then if you made it outside of those like fighting years, then you lived to be an old man. There was a lot of death early, and then there was a lot of death in like, the fighting years. And then outside of that, you know, it's just a tough life. Speaker 3 00:02:54 Have you, uh, or anyone in your family ever traced your ancestry back or anything like that? Or done an ancestry or anything? Speaker 2 00:03:00 Has I, I refuse to do it based purely on the fact that I, on some level, like I don't want a company having access to my stuff. I Speaker 3 00:03:08 Feel the same way. Speaker 2 00:03:09 Um, or government or anything. It's like if I wanted to go back and do that, like I could spend a lifetime tracing that back and listening. And again, all of this is somewhat hearsay, <laugh>, which is, you know, I, I know a guy who knows a guy who said this, and my grandfather celebrated his 80th birthday sixth time. So take everything with a grain of salt in regard to like, family lineage and what it means. Um, that's the one thing my big fat Greek wedding nailed. It's like the, the papu, the grandfather being like, oh, every word is Greek. And it's like kimono, kimono, kimono. Ah, yes. Kimo comes from the Greek word kimon, meaning to open, like, you open your robe. Like, no, that's not, that's not where kimono came from. That's a Japanese word that has no tracing to Greek. Yeah, yeah. Entymology whatsoever. Speaker 3 00:03:53 Yeah. You know, I totally agree with you about not really wanting a company to have my dna. Yeah. But my sister went and did ancestry.com, so now, you know Yeah, because she did that. Now they've got us <laugh>. No, but my mom had spent years tracing our ancestry back before the internet. So she would go to all these cemeteries around where the family's from, and she would find the gravestones, and she would talk to distant relatives and see how far they'd gotten. So she formed a little network of people who were also tracing the lineage of our family back. So she was able to get way, way, way, way, way back. And then, um, when my sister did the ancestry.com thing, they didn't quite line up. So one of them was a little bit inaccurate. And, you know, as far as ancestry.com and things like that, I don't know how accurate they are. I'm suspicious of them. Speaker 2 00:04:41 I, I could argue with them, given that we've put plenty of innocent people behind bars based on faulty d n a testing, and you're telling me that a Q-tip that I put in the US mail is gonna be like a hundred. Like, come on, look, I'm sure it's better than Jimbo down at the creek told me this. But at the same time, like there's flaws in everything. Nothing's perfect. I I wouldn't be a hundred percent convinced stuff, any of that. I think a healthy dose of skepticism is something the world is missing given the volume of, uh, inaccurate things that people post and spout and talk about on the daily. And I do it myself, I'm sure. Speaker 3 00:05:24 I just wanna let you know something about Discover Birmingham's partner Dr. Chase Horton Real Estate with XP Realty. That's right. I'm talking about my business. Are you or someone you know, considering buying or selling a home within the next six months? If so, let's chat with their permission. Simply send me their name and number and I'll reach out to talk about the best way to achieve their real estate goal, whether they're a first time home buyer or they're selling a home they've cherished for 30 years. I've got 'em covered. And here's the deal, guys, did you know that there's a huge segment of the population who may not even find out about your listing? While some buyers with realtors may find out about your listing through the MLS or online searches, there's a huge local audience tuning into this very podcast right now. And when you list your home with Dr. Speaker 3 00:06:15 Chase Real Estate, I'll showcase your listing on this show. That way thousands of local listeners and potential buyers will discover your listing before anyone else. And listen up, I've got a great offer for you. If you refer someone to me, I will donate $250 to a charity of your choosing. So whether you're looking to buy or sell real estate, do it with the doc. So once again, if you know of anyone who's thinking of buying or selling within the next six months or so, simply text home 2 2 0 5 2 1 3 9 7 2 0. That's home. H o m e 2 2 0 5 2 1 3 9 7 2 0. All right, now let's jump back into today's episode of the Discover Birmingham podcast and highlight the best parts of our awesome city. We got Lee Penta here, Gus's Hotdogs. For people who don't know you, tell us a bit about yourself. Speaker 2 00:07:17 Born and raised in Birmingham. I'm one of three boys. I come from a family of attorneys, uh, who came from a family of restaurant operators. I'm, uh, in love with my city, and I'm married and have a one year old daughter. And life has been very good to me and I'm very thankful and I'm very blessed. And, uh, just trying to do what I can to find and keep happiness and take care of the people around me. Yeah, Speaker 3 00:07:41 Absolutely. So, you know, we've talked about how your family is of Greek origin. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, what is it with Greek families and owning restaurants in Birmingham? Speaker 2 00:07:49 Greeks in general, just like food, our entire cultural, like disposition centers around food. Hey, how are you? Have you eaten? Hey, what's going on? How was your day? What'd you eat today? Like, how is life? You know, let's cook something to eat. Let's have some coffee and go from there. Yeah. Those Speaker 3 00:08:06 Are good friends to have. Speaker 2 00:08:07 That's southern hospitality too. I think. You know, you'll hear George Ays talk about it. You'll hear Tim Hanses talk about it. You know, there's so many different, I mean, Tassos at Ted's Teddy, <laugh>, Nick's West, like, there's just, oh, Speaker 3 00:08:20 Big fan Nick's man. Speaker 2 00:08:22 Yeah. So good. You walk in and at a certain point, family, there's no, there's no pretense. There's no, I have to have a certain look, I have to have a certain tie. Uh, um, one of the things I'm most proud of about my family lineage is, you know, my grandfather ran restaurants during the Civil Rights movement. And at any given time, his whole operation was built on the idea that if you come in, we're gonna take care of you. I don't care what you look like. I don't care what you act like. You treat people right. You work hard and you make a difference in your community by not skimping on love. And I think that makes a difference. And I hope we do that at Gus's. I hope we do that at every restaurant or catering or whatever I do. It makes a difference to me that when you walk in, you know, we care about you. Speaker 2 00:09:05 You know, we want you to be taken care of. It's not about a $5 hotdog or a $3 hotdog or, you know, I've gotta get my check sales up. It's about making sure that the person that is taking time out of their day to come visit your business gets treated with the respect they deserve. And I think you see that a lot in Birmingham just across the board, not just with Greeks, but everywhere. I think it's a southern thing. So, uh, a couple came down from Washington DC and opened up Pizza Grace, and they have that same love, that same like, you're coming in, we're gonna take care of you. We're gonna make sure that you enjoy yourself. We're gonna make sure you know that you matter. And I think they got a James of Beard nomination for that, which is, you know, very on par for Birmingham. Right. Come in, open a restaurant, treat people Right. Get some recognition for it. Speaker 3 00:09:51 Yeah. It's well deserved. Yeah. You know, I heard you on the Southern Fork Podcast. It was a really good interview and I enjoyed it and that's why I wanted to have you on. And you were talking about how Augustus hotdogs, the way that it started was the blue collar population in downtown Birmingham with the steel workers. What they really needed was a meal at lunchtime with a low price point that really kind of sticks to your ribs, you know, something to give them that sustenance to do hard manual labor and how when you came in and took over, that's kind of what you still wanted to do, is provide that kind of meal for people. So tell us about Gus's hotdogs. Speaker 2 00:10:27 So is unfortunately one of the last surviving, uh, unfortunately for us, unfortunately for the people of Birmingham that don't have as many options as I would like them to, one of the last surviving downtown, you know, Greek owned hotdog stands. And what that means is at some point in Birmingham's history, we were known at the hotdog, uh, hotdog capital of the South. Really? There's a, yeah, there's a really neat documentary called Hotdog Opus. And there's a gentleman from SFA named Eric Velasco, and he has also put some time, energy, and effort into documenting the historical and cultural significance of the hotdog to Birmingham. So Guus is awesome. It's a neat spot. It's been there since 1947. It's old school. Like, it's smaller than this venue where we're recording this podcast. On any given day, you'll see a mayor, a surgeon, a homeless guy, a bus driver, a teacher, a vet, and everybody in between, you know, if you bring your kid in, we're gonna give him some candy and say, Hey, thanks for coming in. Partly because we want to show that child that they matter and we, you know, have love for them. But also because the next time that kid gets asked where he wants to go eat, he's gonna remember he got candy. And it's a really ineffective Yeah. Or, uh, effective and inexpensive way to market the Speaker 3 00:11:45 Old bank trick. Speaker 2 00:11:46 Right. Exactly. Exactly. Gimme that. I'll go through the drive-through if I get the lollipop. So Gus is cool because it's a flat top grill that's 80 years old that, you know, we char the hotdog on. It gets that good color and that nice little crispy pop. We've got every topping you can think of from coleslaw to raw onions, we'll grill onions. We've got our secret sauce. If you ask what the sauce is, I'll politely tell you if it's a secret. If you ask again, I'll run down the ingredients with you. And, um, it's one of those things that as much as I, you know, want to take credit for and be like, I am a culinary master, um, I, I didn't come up with the sauce, we just keep it the same. That's, that's, that was our big thing. We wanted to increase efficiency, increase the availability of our product to our guest. But I didn't want to change the quality. I didn't want to change the vibe. I didn't want to change anything other than maybe adding a credit card machine and cleaning. Speaker 3 00:12:38 That's huge, Lee, because I feel like so many companies will take something that people love and then they'll just, just mess with it in order to try to, you know, decrease their bottom line or something like that. I'm thinking about Oreos and foods that we grew up with, foods that we loved, they'll eventually change the recipe and re and replace the ingredients with lower quality artificial ingredients in order to extend the shelf life. So for you to have this place and just keep it the same as it's always been, it seems like a no-brainer. But not everyone does that. So I think that's important. Also, the buns are steamed, right? Yeah. Speaker 2 00:13:12 We have, so we have some like old school equipment that really is just kind of hard to come by. We have this like stainless steel steamer, so we get our buns fresh every day from Flowers Bakery. There's a Flowers Bakery in Birmingham and one in Birmingham I think only makes hamburger buns. It's kind of like how like car manufacturers do it. So like the Mercedes plant only makes the mCLASS mm-hmm. <affirmative>, right? They don't make every single Mercedes. They make one thing and they specialize in it. So I think the flowers here makes hamburger buns and the one in Atlanta makes hotdog buns, <laugh>, whatever. We get 'em, they get baked and then they're in our restaurant. And so that's a big deal too, which is, you know, at any given moment, if you go to your local Piggly Wiggly or your Publix or whatever, I personally try to shop at Piggly Wiggly cuz they're local folks. Speaker 2 00:13:58 The pig. Yeah. Yeah. You get to the pig, they're awesome. When you go there, that bread is great, but it's a day older, which is to say it went to the spot and then went there. And so even if you get something the day of, we still have it a day before you, cuz we have one less hand touching it mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, so there's nothing wrong with that. That's just the nature of how things go. But that in combination with a, you know, 80 year old piece of equipment that doesn't exist anymore makes a difference. The key with the steamer is to make sure they don't get soggy. And so we've had this issue with catering, which is how do you replicate a flavor of an 80 year old cast iron grill when you're not on site? How do you, how do you make sure, like you said, that we don't distill the essence out of the product. So one of the things we do is we'll take the een bun, put the hotdog that has been charred into it, it, and wrap it in foil, and then the heat from the hotdog steams the bun. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you ever had like a stadium dog in Bryant Denny? Oh yeah. Where like, the bun's just a little soft. That's the same concept and that's what we're trying to accomplish at the spot. Speaker 3 00:15:03 I prefer that over a toasted bun myself. You know, it seems like such a minor detail, but it, it really totally changes the hotdog. It Speaker 2 00:15:09 Depends on the type of bun. If it's like a brioche bun, I want it toasted. Yeah, right. Like with the top split, like for a lobster roll, I want it toasted. Especially if they put like a little butter on it and everything. That's, that's killer. So we go back and forth with this because there is such thing as a gourmet hotdog. Right. You know, we aren't necessarily a gourmet hotdog spot. I would call us an eclectic hotdog spot. Right. We are gonna be kind of weird and offbeat and try to do some things that people want. You know, it doesn't matter to me what you want on your hotdog or if you don't like onions or we're gonna fix it. But there is such thing as a gourmet hotdog. So one of my buddies opened up a spot in Oxford called Quack Dogs, and they do like gourmet hotdogs. Like he go look at his Instagram, it's neat. Really. They're doing some unique things on their hotdogs. And Speaker 3 00:15:53 What's your favorite one you've had from there? Speaker 2 00:15:55 So I think he did like a red bean and rice one. And that's just such a killer idea to me. And you know, you take a Kinetica sausage, you cook down some red beans and then, you know, maybe make like a fried rice crisp on top that's kind of got the same texture or component as a tater tot. And that just seems like a really cool idea with some green onion and a beer. Like that's, Speaker 3 00:16:15 I can get down with that. Absolutely. Speaker 2 00:16:17 I can get down with that real quick. Speaker 3 00:16:18 What's your a buddy spot called again? Quack Dogs. Quack Dogs, okay. Yeah. I'll l that in the show notes. Yeah. Um, you know, you mentioned Nikki's West and uh, I gotta talk about that for a minute. I read a stat, they serve like 1500 meals a day. You know, I think before Covid when things were normal, they were serving like 1500 meals a day, which is insane. And since they changed their hours during Covid, I don't know if they ever went back to being open full-time, but I was in there eating one time and I have a buddy who's of Greek origin named Jimmy. Great guy. A Speaker 2 00:16:48 Few of us. Quite a few. Jimmys. Yeah, Speaker 3 00:16:49 A few, yeah. We were eating and we go to check out and somehow the guy ringing us up started talking to Jimmy and found out he was Greek. And he goes, seriously, follow me. So they walk us back to this little back room and we open the door and it looks like Goodfellas. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, there's like four guys sitting around the card table smoking cigars just kicked back. And they, you know, we bannered with him for a little bit and it, it really felt like a mafia movie, <laugh>, but, uh, I think it was Teddy and, and some of his friends back there. Speaker 2 00:17:20 So, uh, I, I can't speak to any of that and I will never, uh, incriminate anybody in regard to, uh, cigars and poker in a restaurant. That being said, um, there is something special about hanging out with your restaurant folks and you know, I don't know, uh, HEPA is the local Greek, uh, fraternity. Um, it's the Hellenic, uh, I always forget the abbreviation, but it's H e E P A. And so we work with them on a lot of things and they do a big dinner that raises money to provide scholarships for people of Greek origin. Speaker 3 00:17:57 So, wait, this is a Greek fraternity that's for people of any age? Yeah. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:18:01 It's neat. Um, they do a lot of good, lot of charitable works. They work with the Greek Orthodox Church in downtown Birmingham. Is that Speaker 3 00:18:07 The pancake breakfast? Speaker 2 00:18:08 That's one of the things we do as well. And they always help us with that. So that started cuz of my grandfather and my father. And we try to, you know, keep it going. And we've moved it down to Gus's because we can serve more people, we can do more good. It used to be our excuse to like get together, like everybody has a sweater party, right? Like in Christmas or a cocktail party, like everybody's December's booked up. Well, when you have three boys and you want to throw a party, you can't find a day that everybody can work on at night. But it's pretty easy to be like, Saturday morning 9:00 AM bring your kids over and we'll have a horse and buggy and Santa Claus and come on down. So it snowballed pretty quickly. Um, it sounds Speaker 3 00:18:45 Like it, Speaker 2 00:18:45 It got to the point where it was, uh, a a restaurant operation, not a family operation. Speaker 3 00:18:57 More cash, more capital and new customers for your business. That's where Moxie comes in. Moxie Birmingham is a growing community of small businesses helping one another thrive as a Moxie member, you earn more revenue from brand new customers, not spend your hard-earned revenue on various expenses and even get a no interest, no payment line of credit all within the Moxie Network. As a Moxie member myself, I can tell you that I choose to support other businesses that also accept moxie. In fact, I've discovered some of my very favorite restaurants, healthcare practitioners and home and auto service businesses through Moxie. I'm talking Soho, social Heavenly Donuts, nothing but cakes, just to name a few. Go to moxie birmingham.com. That's m o x e y b h A m.com to learn more. Moxie. It's the smarter way to barter. Speaker 3 00:20:07 You know, I had Chewy our, our mutual friend on the podcast last episode, Jesus Mendez and he, it wasn't on the episode, but we were talking about Piggly Wiggly. Yeah. And how apparently they were the first and they kind of revolutionized the way that people shop for groceries. They were the first to do self-serve grocery service. I had no idea it was them. I before that it was all, go tell 'em what you want and they'd go get it for you. Or they would deliver pick Lee Wiggly was apparently the first where you served yourself in the grocery store. Well, Speaker 2 00:20:35 I learned something new cuz I can't speak to that. Yeah. Um, I went to middle school with, um, Austin Verio and the Verios are involved in the Piggly Wigglys in town and they're great folks. Um, I think they're Italian so, you know, cousins basically to me, Speaker 3 00:20:51 Right? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I had a client when I was a personal trainer in college who she was connected to the Shinara family in some way and they owned some as well and she would wear a Piggly Wiggly shirt every session. We worked out a different color, Piggly wiggly shirt every time. <laugh>. That's awesome. Speaker 2 00:21:06 Uh, it's neat. Look, I, I think it's interesting cuz you go to different places and the pigs are different, whereas like if you go to a, a Publix, like 90% of Publix are the same mm-hmm. <affirmative>, 90% of the Walmart's the same. I do think the pigs do a neat job of kind of figuring out where they are. Like the one on Claremont or Montclair, I always get those two switched by Highlands Golf Course is fantastic. The one in Mountain Brook is fantastic and they're like, they're in kind of food deserts, otherwise there aren't many other grocery stores around there. And so they take that opportunity to serve that community better. Speaker 3 00:21:39 So yeah, I remember the first time I went in a Publix, it was in Florida and it was at the beach mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And this one had like an indoor, like coy pond and it had fish swimming around. It was like, uh, it was intense. The nicest grocery store I'd ever been in. And I was like, man, I hope we have a Publix in Birmingham one day. And they don't have coy ponds. Unfortunately. They do a good Speaker 2 00:22:01 Job. Yeah. The one downtown's a good addition. Right. It's nice having a grocery store downtown. Speaker 3 00:22:05 It is. But I really like the idea, like you said, of, uh, supporting a local grocery store better. Speaker 2 00:22:09 I mean, we try to support local businesses across the board. You know, we get our meats from Evan's Meats, we get our bread from flowers. Um, if there's a way we can do something closer to home, I think it's important. Um, you know, look, there is something to be said for having a global economy where we're involved with everybody, where everybody matters. Because if we help them, they help us. And we're all in this together, specifically on global events, whether it's war or environment or economy. If ours is affected, theirs is effective. If theirs is affected, ours is affected. But the easiest way to do that as like normal people is to shop locally and help your local economy and your local folks. Speaker 3 00:22:51 Yeah. What are some of your other favorite local spots around downtown? So Speaker 2 00:22:55 We made a post about this during Small Business Week. And in all honesty, it's one of those things that's, it's hard to mention, it's hard to mention everybody. And the second I start doing it, I'm gonna forget somebody and I'm gonna feel bad. So what I will say is that, you know, follow us on social media. We try to support other folks. I've got an Instagram, a Facebook, all that. So it's, Speaker 3 00:23:13 Is it Gus's Hotdogs, Speaker 2 00:23:14 The Gus Hotdogs on Instagram and then Gus's Hotdogs downtown on Facebook. So we try to support other folks. So look, we love Yo Mamas, we love Green Acres, we love Teds. We loved, um, Nikki's West. We love Miami Fusion Cafe. Like Speaker 3 00:23:29 Same Speaker 2 00:23:30 Like there's so many great places. We love audios. We love Uno's Tacos, we love Pizza Grace, we love post Office pies. We love Johnny's and Homewood. Uh, I love Lloyd's. Um, you know, there's so many wonderful spots in Birmingham. Uh, I love fishing market. My first job in a restaurant when I was like 13 years old was with George Saras and he like took me in. I love Dino. I think they're phenomenal human beings. And you know, the city of Birmingham is better because they're here. Right? Like just a hundred percent. There's so many great places. Like I love Lose Pup. I almost wore a loose pub shirt today. I think you talk about somebody, we talked about Oreos and like taking something great and not messing it up. Mike has done so well taking a, a historic institution that is looses. It's one of the few places that is part package door, part bar. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I mean, they're just wonderful folks. Like, absolutely wonderful. I've, I'm rocking a continental drift hat because phenomenal human beings. They've got a truck, they've got a bar. And I love their aesthetic. I love their vibe. I love the people. They're, I mean, they're just crushing it. Speaker 3 00:24:35 What is Continental Drift? I think I passed it the other day and I was with Katie and, and neither one of us recognized it. Cause we lived downtown. You know, that's actually how we, uh, we know Geddes, gues and I were neighbors in the same building. One of my favorite people. He's hilarious. Yeah. Always loved him. So shout out to Gdes. Yeah. So we had a pretty good finger on the pulse of downtown when we lived there, but since we've moved, we've kind of lost touch of a few of the places. And that's one of my, the purposes for this podcast is so that I can make sure that I'm staying in the loop. Because like you love Birmingham. Yeah, I'm, I'm, I'm bullish on Birmingham. W Continental Will Drift. Speaker 2 00:25:08 So, um, John and Eric are, to call them bartenders isn't really fair. Right. It, for better or worse, you know, they they do more than that. They're community stewards. They're good guys. They're like out catering. They're out taking care of folks, but they're, they're talented bartenders. And they opened up a bar called Continental Drift. It has a unique kind of like vapor wave eighties aesthetic of neon and mirrors and white. It's got a lot of unique, uh, cultural and kind of seasonal, uh, items. So they did a year of the rabbit menu that was, um, Asian inspired. And so it had some different ses, one chilies and different things that are unique. They have a truck that goes with it and they just do an awesome job. So you need to have 'em on and talk to them and get it from them. So I'll Yeah, Speaker 3 00:25:55 I'd like to, I'm actually gonna have to talk to you about, uh, maybe if you have any other recommendations for people I should invite on, but we'll talk about that after the show. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:26:01 Other places that just keep going down the list. Uh, Alabama Peanut, right? Speaker 3 00:26:05 Oh yeah. Ion Speaker 2 00:26:06 Big. They're awesome. And Speaker 3 00:26:07 We go to Pepper Place a lot. Yeah. And they have Buffalo flavored Yes. Peanuts. So good boiled peanuts. Buffalo. Speaker 2 00:26:13 Did you try the Milos sauce one? Speaker 3 00:26:16 They were not offering that, but that would be my number one choice. They Speaker 2 00:26:19 Did a limited time Milo. Like, I, I shot 'em a message on, uh, Instagram. I was like, Hey, we gotta do Augustus one. So yeah. At some point, good idea point. If I can, you know, get it going. I'm going to, you know, I worked at Lil Donkey, great spot. Love the folks. Tasty Town. Great folks Love the Spot. Uh, Rodney's, all of that's under Pack's Investment group and they taught me a lot about how to run a restaurant and how to treat people. Andrew Collins talk about a Greek hotdog guy used to run Lyric Cafe now owns Collins Bar in Coyo Coco. Like, we could sit here all day and just list off restaurants and bars that are worth going to. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:26:53 And speaking of Collins Bar, their uh, their corn dog Yeah. Is mean. Oh. Speaker 2 00:26:58 So I, I probably shouldn't put this out into the public, but his slaw dog is my favorite slaw dog. Yeah. Yeah. I think it's ridiculous. Speaker 3 00:27:06 Would you call that a gourmet hotdog? Speaker 2 00:27:08 No, I mean, so Lyric Cafe was like, it was, it was awesome. It was a, it was a, how do I describe it? So what's that spot? Um, I think they call it, uh, like Skyline View or something like that. Now it's across from the courthouse and it's like a little grill tucked under a parking Yeah. A lot like Gus mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And they do a good job and they're good folks. Um, I haven't been in, in forever. It used to be called like Maria's or something like that. No, it was Sophia's. Not Maria's. It was Sophia's. Okay. Um, and it was just a, a neighborhood institution. Right. You know, you had apartments all around you and it's kinda like a bodega, right. Kind of. They did like a little deli, a little this little that at some point I imagine they sold cigarettes, you know, before that became a, a thing that you didn't want to associate with a restaurant. You know, the, all those Greek places at the checkout counter, you had cigarettes and gum and candy and Andy's mints and all that stuff. Speaker 3 00:27:58 Andy's mints, man. Big fan, Speaker 2 00:28:00 Huge fan. Swm chubby, like <laugh> <laugh>. Speaker 3 00:28:04 Um, it's, you know, when I become, when I become an official old man, instead of carrying worth's originals in my pocket, I think I might go Andy's mints not in now. Alabama. It might melt. Yeah. I was about not in Alabama, Speaker 2 00:28:14 But you're gonna have to Speaker 3 00:28:15 I'll find a way. Move to Speaker 2 00:28:16 Chicago. Um, like just, there's just so many cool places that are in our city that we're just really, really lucky to have. Um, you know, my mother owns an art gallery called Canary Art Gallery. Speaker 3 00:28:27 Oh, is that your mom? It's my mom's, Speaker 2 00:28:29 Yeah. Uh, you know, Fels right next door with House of, uh, found objects. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Speaker 3 00:28:33 Um, were you an Atomic fan? Speaker 2 00:28:36 So I like everything. Like I, I don't have enough time in my day to like, think about things I don't like. Yeah. Right. So I'm gonna focus on the things that I enjoy and like spend time and work hard doing the stuff that I love because otherwise I'll kinda spiral out of control and Sure. Be in a bad place. So, Speaker 3 00:28:56 But before Atomic closed, man, that was like one of my go-tos. So from your conversation on the Southern Fork Podcast, I think I remember you mentioning that you have someone that works with you at Gus's who's been there forever. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:29:07 So everybody calls him LA and I generally have nothing to add to the conversation because if you know, you know, like you walk in, he knows your order, he knows who you are, he knows your mama. He wants to make sure everybody's happy. I'm very thankful to have a person that is just genuinely decent. He's a good man, he's a good daddy. He's like, he's just a good guy. We have honest conversations that, not necessarily easy conversations, but where we're headed, where we are, what do we want out of this operation? How are we gonna get better than we were yesterday? Hey man, this isn't right. Let's fix this. Hey, I think this is right. What do you think about this? And having somebody that you can actually talk to, like, it's just like any relationship, right? The ability to have that open line of communication judgment free. Speaker 2 00:30:01 It's not, Hey man, you messed up. It's, Hey man, how do we fix this? And he brings it to me, I bring it to him, and we try to elevate everybody else around us, which increases the quality of the experience for our guests. I love having honest and respectful communication. I think that is integral to our success as human beings. If you can't verbalize what's on your heart or on your mind and convey it, then how can somebody else understand where they can be more useful to you? So our ability to do that, to bring in family and friends and to work together, we've been together five years and that's, that's a win, right? They say most restaurants don't survive, you know, one, they damn sure don't survive five. And they definitely don't do that with, you know, a hotheaded Greek kid and, you know, a a Covid pandemic. But we've been able to work together, find commonalities, and we believe in the same thing, which is wake up work hard, party harder. Speaker 3 00:31:07 There you go. I like it. Well, word on the street is that you also know everyone's name that comes in there. Everyone's mama. So I think that's not something unique to la I think you also do that, but, um, Speaker 2 00:31:19 The Margaret is a bar that went into the atomic spot and that is another phenomenal, it's female owned. It's wonderful. They just do a great job and they're wonderful people. You know, we haven't talked about Neon Moon or Paper Doll or Casanovas or Queen Spark. Yeah. I mean, there's Speaker 3 00:31:38 So many options in Birmingham. I'm telling you. It's a, it's a hidden gem. And I kind of like it that way because if everyone keep true, but when I was in, uh, grad school in Atlanta, people would find out that I was from mm-hmm. <affirmative> from Alabama and they're like, you don't sound like you're from Alabama. Or, you know, oops, I'm sorry. They would say, I'm sorry. I'm like, number one, you've never been there. Number two, Birmingham's awesome. Yeah. But number three, you're not the type of person that we want moving there. So <laugh>, I'm okay with you keeping your preconceived notions. You Speaker 2 00:32:09 Can keep your sass, Speaker 3 00:32:10 Keep that sass. Yeah, exactly. You know, you mentioned you were from a family of attorneys and did I read somewhere that some, that your family had something to do with the lawsuit surrounding nine 11? Yeah, Speaker 2 00:32:21 That's my father. Um, so if I haven't said it, and I'll say it a hundred times, I'm very proud to be the child of my mother and my father. They're wonderful human beings. They have worked on a variety of civil litigations that are, in my eyes, bettering humanity. Uh, whether it's equal pay for women and people of color, or making sure that individuals aren't discriminated against because of anything. Right. You have a right to be happy and to go and be successful as long as you aren't affecting somebody else's right. To be happy and be successful. Um, my freedoms extend up until the point they, they affect your freedoms. And, um, yes, my father is, uh, one of the litigators involved in the nine 11 cases. Um, I do think they're still active and, um, if I were to try to explain anything of it, I would fall flat on my face and fail dismally. Speaker 2 00:33:11 But I think suffice to say that we are beyond proud of him and for specifically fighting for the widows and widowers of those attacks where the people that lost loved ones, we all lost something that day, but some people lost a lot. And, um, for 20 years now almost yeah, almost 20 years, they have been piecing together, um, effort and love and energy trying to get something for those people. You're never gonna make 'em whole, right? You, you can never replace a person. You can never replace that love. But, um, on some level, finding something that takes care of those kids that never got to meet a parent or something along those lines, that is a noble endeavor and we're very proud Speaker 3 00:34:03 Of that. Absolutely. But, uh, yeah, that's a high profile case. It's gotta be really amazing to have a family member working on that. But yeah, you're right. That's the day that, uh, that our country totally changed. Yeah. Said, uh, but yeah, man, but back to Birmingham, um, you mentioned Paper Doll. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that was my absolute favorite bar in town. So I, I was able to pick a favorite mm-hmm. <affirmative> until audios came along. Yeah. And then those two were kind of right up there for me. But I guess I was a little biased at Paper Doll because the owners, uh, Jason and Joel and their families, they gave me my first job out of chiropractic school. Okay. Awesome. Uh, he's, he's also, he was also a chiropractor, so he gave me the job and, um, we became friends and when he was traveling around doing research to kind of get an idea of what kind of concept he wanted, we would kind of, um, you know, select a chiropractic conference that we wanted to go to. And, uh, we would make sure it was in a really fun city like, uh, Las Vegas or Denver or, or, uh, Laguna Beach or somewhere. Yeah. And we'd do a little bar of research along the way. So I felt like I got to, you know, watch that process up close. And it was, and I was so impressed with how Paper Doll turned out. I think the atmosphere and the whole vibe is just, is just excellent. They did a really good job with that one. Speaker 2 00:35:15 I agree. I think they also, they saw something on First Avenue and they were one of, you know, not the first bar on First Avenue, but they were part of that resurgence. And so, you know, I, I haven't been out out in over a year give or take. Well, Speaker 3 00:35:33 We have babies. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:35:34 So <laugh> and so the other night I had a catering for June Coffee, another phenomenal local spot. They celebrated their one year anniversary. Their wonderful human beings go by and support them. And we went and catered and cooked hot dogs and stuff. And so I got done in around 10 30, 11, and at that point it was like, I'm out. Everybody's already asleep in my home. If I go home now, I'm gonna wake 'em up. Might as well go have a beer. Yeah. So I went out on First Avenue and it was awesome. Like, it was just really, really cool to see how like, just busy everything was. And I don't even think it was a particularly busy night for First Avenue, because I think the Pride Parade was going on in Lakeview. And I think there were other, you know, major events drawing normal First Avenue folks out of First Avenue, but it was the busiest. Speaker 2 00:36:21 I had seen a bar or a strip or wherever since I was in college. And I was just really excited for Birmingham to see that one that's, you know, businesses being successful, human beings out enjoying life and treating each other with kindness, but too, that's tax revenue coming into our city to better, you know, the communities that need it. That's police officers, that's roads, that's, you know, more events. Uh, what are, whether you think the World Games was a success or not, the idea that we were able to pull that office. Like if you had told me we were gonna do something like that in high school, it would've been like that, right? Yeah. But like, we did that. That's neat. Like, that's cool. Like it costs money, so does the postal service. That doesn't mean it's a bad thing. The military cost money too. I think that's a good thing too. Speaker 3 00:37:04 Yeah. It brought some notoriety to the city and, and now we're getting up next, I think we're getting the CrossFit games and for Speaker 2 00:37:09 The Firemens for Speaker 3 00:37:10 I think three consecutive years or two years or something that's, that's big. The CrossFit Games a really big event. Speaker 2 00:37:15 And the idea that we can have these events is neat. I think that's what you want out of the city is yes, we want roads and schools and everything else, but the idea of coming together and living in a society is that you benefit from the collective sum of everybody, which should be more than the parts alone. And you know, I alone could not put on an event like that or any of those individuals couldn't. But collectively we can. And I think that's neat. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:37:41 A hundred percent. Yeah. When you went out the other night, did you, were you able to stop by audios? Oh, that's Speaker 2 00:37:45 Exactly where I went. Yeah. Sat at the bar and saw Yvonne and Jose and, you know, I think I had what they have a, a passion fruit Dery right now and fire. Absolute fire. Speaker 3 00:37:57 Yeah. And the audio's Margarita, they're staple drink. So good. It's so simple, but it's so good. And when Chewy was on last week, he was talking about, you know, he is been a bartender for a really long time, but when he was coming up with the concept for audios, he knew what kind of drinks he wanted. He had traveled around to all the major cities and he knew he could make a good drink, but he couldn't make a drink as good as he wanted the drinks to be there. So he brought someone else in to handle that aspect of it. But whoever did they, whoever he brought in killed it. Speaker 2 00:38:28 So, uh, that's Jose. Um, okay. And Jose and I worked together at Little Donkey and he is a phenomenal human being. Oh, Speaker 3 00:38:35 The partner? Yeah. Yeah, Speaker 2 00:38:36 Yeah. He's one of my just like favorite people in the world, really. Yeah, absolutely. Um, and then he was the bar manager at Automatic when they won their James Beard. Uh, and I say they won, um, chef Chris Evans won the award for Best Chef, and he'll be humble and kind because he's amazing and an awesome human being. But, um, he's just a, he's a bad man. Like <laugh>, his food's fantastic. Speaker 3 00:39:00 A bad man in the best way Speaker 2 00:39:02 Possible. Yeah. Um, and their bar's great. Uh, so, you know, I worked with a lot of those folks. Um, their general manager's names Kevin. He was my manager when I was at Satterfield, another phenomenal Birmingham institution. Becky Satterfield is wonderful, and they, you know, shout out to Laier and everything they do with women and, uh, facilitating the growth of wonderful chefs in Birmingham and worldwide and everything else. Uh, they do a lot to elevate folks that may not have a chance to be successful in kitchens and like they just crush it, uh, every year. Yeah. She's awesome. She's got, uh, ba she's got Satterfield, which is her like name restaurant in Kaba Heights. And then she's got El Zoom Zone, which is, um, a really neat name for a restaurant. It's based on the migratory, uh, path of hummingbirds. Hmm. Uh, throughout the America's. Really cool. Speaker 2 00:39:48 Um, she's a neat lady. But yeah, Jose and I worked together for years and he's just awesome. I have the utmost respect for him and, um, he is a master of his craft. He is creative and my favorite thing about him is how efficient he is. If you want to go watch a bartender be efficient and somebody like in their element, or if you wanna learn how to be efficient, like you, you don't really get somebody like that that just knows how to rock out. Um, on any given day, you can come into Gus and you'll see us running and people are always like, oh, how do y'all remember the orders? How do you do this? Well, we do it every day, but there is a skillset to it. And Jose's got that skillset of remembering orders, stirring a drink, shaking a drink at the same time, making sure the orders are right, making sure the customer gets treated right, making sure the station's clean, making sure everything's properly stocked, and at the same time ringing up things so that you actually account for the inventory you're using. It's a lot. Yeah. Um, and to do that all on your feet for 12 hours in a dark and loud bar, it's impressive. And, you know, Birmingham's lucky to have him. Speaker 3 00:40:53 A hundred percent. I love seeing how the, the restaurant industry has a way of taking people and building them up in such a way, you know, you can start out washing dishes or you can start out in the kitchen. You can start out in a lower level position. Next thing you know, you work your way up and you're owning a really excellent restaurant, or you're owning a an awesome bar. And then you're doing the same thing for people. So you're finding people that you want to invest in, in building them up. Kind of the way that Franks did did with Chewy, you know, he, they kind of gave him his start in the big leagues. He started out at, uh, iguana Grill. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then next thing you know, he is talking to Patis and she's putting him in Shon Fond. And then from there he just like, like takes off like a rocket. So you hear about that story in Birmingham and I think it's so huge that, that anyone can go get a job at a restaurant and if they have talent, if they have a work ethic and if they have a desire for growth, the restaurant industry can, can build you up. Speaker 2 00:41:48 Well, we haven't really, uh, I mentioned Frank and passing earlier, and obviously Franken part go hand in hand cuz they are royalty. Like absolute royalty. Birmingham is just so lucky to have them, what they've been doing. You talk about people that moved on to first, well, they took Highlands and that whole area and elevated it to a, a, a level that nobody else had seen. Um, their quality of food and service is just absurd. Like, Bottega is so good. Like, it's just so good. So good. Fun, fun. So good. Like, it's just so good. And Speaker 3 00:42:20 Yeah, their burger. Speaker 2 00:42:21 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I mean just everything, everything that the desserts, the, like, the, it's just <laugh>. Like, it's just one of those things where they don't miss Yeah. If you haven't been, just go get something simple because it's gonna be executed perfectly and the just the level of standard is so high. But to specifically what you're talking about, I think the way I always looked at it was apprenticing, which is I knew I wanted to run restaurants when I had my first job, which was data entry for my father's law firm. And I sat at a desk and I entered things from a piece of paper into the computer and I was like, I'm miserable. I can't do this. If this is what work is like, I'm gonna run away and be in the circus <laugh>. And my father was like, well, you know, your grandfather ran restaurants, maybe you should go get a job in a restaurant. Speaker 2 00:43:11 And so he made a call to Georgess and I started in the dish pit at, you know, and I was a liability. Let's get like <laugh>. I was not actively like producing value. I was a detraction from his operation and he paid me money to not do good jobs. And I was thankful for that. I'm still thankful for that because I found something I'm passionate about. And I was also showed a kindness that I think to this day we still try to extend that kindness to everybody over the years. I got better at my job and like you said, I was willing to put in the work. And ultimately I think any job you do, if you're willing to put in the work, you'll be okay. Hard work doesn't mean success, but success doesn't really happen without hard work there. It's, it's just like that base level of foundation that it's hard to build a house unless you have that level. Speaker 2 00:44:04 I think it's interesting. I think you're right. I think it's one of those unique things. Now look, you can do the same thing as an apprentice for an electrician or as an apprentice for an HVAC guy. Um, for those things that you need that degree, that body, uh, that governing body to sign off on. Right. You know, to practice law, you have to have the governing body mm-hmm. <affirmative> that is the bar sign off on you doing this to be a a legal medical doctor, you have to have that governing body sign off on your ability to do this. And then you have to keep up with your degree, you have to do your CLEs, you have to maintain that standard. Restaurants have that to a certain extent, but it's not the same where we like, you know, my governing body is the health department. Speaker 2 00:44:42 They're the one making sure that we're okay, shout out to J C D A or J D C H <laugh>. They do a good job. It's a big deal. Like it matters. Um, same with like the grease trap guys. At a certain point, like if we didn't have those things, somebody would be breaking the rules and you know, I'd love to live in a world where that's not the case, but unfortunately if you have a hundred people, you know, 99 of 'em are gonna do the right thing a hundred percent of the time and that one person's gonna mess it up for the rest of us. So that's why you have those <laugh> individuals, uh, and they're, you know, doing their thing. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:45:15 So you, you worked in a few restaurants, little donkey mm-hmm. <affirmative> and others. How did you make that transition to owning Gus's? Speaker 2 00:45:22 So I graduated from Alabama. We're big Alabama fans. Um, real Tide. Yeah. Real tide. Uh, thank you Nick Saban. <laugh>, thank you. Uh, mal Moore, thank you for putting a lot of love. I mean highest paid government employee and he's still underpaid, right? The amount of money that that man has brought into this state is crazy unreal. Like you talk about the year you left Birmingham and moved away and then like you go back and it's a different city. Like I graduated from Alabama the day of the tornadoes on uh, April 27th, 2011. And I went, I go down, we cater down there for game days through game day done right? And if you have a tent on the quad game day done right, they're wonderful folks. They do a great job and I'm really thankful to be a part of that operation where, you know, if you have a tailgate and you want hot dogs, holler at me. I'd love to bring you some hot dogs and make sure that you've got a nice and easy, uh, appetizing meal for your, your your tailgaters. That'd be awesome. Speaker 3 00:46:24 I'll, and I'll once again, I'll put a link to all your social media in the show notes so you guys can go follow. Speaker 2 00:46:29 It's gonna be a lot of links. There's a lot of people worth following in Birmingham, <laugh>. Oh Speaker 3 00:46:33 Absolutely. Speaker 2 00:46:34 Um, which is why you have the show. Right. And we'll make sure you keep doing it cuz I think it's, uh, a worthy endeavor. So you got sidetracked earlier. I got sidetracked there talking about Tuscaloosa. Um, we were going down to the national championship in Tampa where Alabama lost to Clemson. And I still maintain if both Scarborough hadn't gotten hurt or if Eddie Jackson hadn't got hurt earlier in that year, we might have been able to cover Hunter Renfro. That being said, you know, go, go Tigers, go Clemson. Congrats on your win. Well deserved. You guys are awesome too. No offense. Uh, my sister-in-law is a Clemson grad, so this is for you and <laugh>, uh, it's the only time I'll say it, <laugh>. Um, so, uh, had a blast on there. Tampa was wonderful and the whole time we were talking about Guss, which is my family's attorneys are my dad and brother have a part of a law firm called Wiggins Child's, Panas Fisher and Gulf Farm. Speaker 2 00:47:28 It's in the crest building in downtown Birmingham. The parking lot adjacent to it is where Guss is. It was run by a elderly Greek man named George NAIAs. He bought it in 1997 and for the past five to 10 years, he had been talking about selling it and retiring. And I'll be honest, I was a Pete's famous guy. So I would go to Pete's famous as my hotdog stand. And when Gus creaks at Pete's famous passed, I stopped eating hotdogs. And um, when George said he was gonna retire, I knew it was one of the last ones downtown. And so I'd always wanted a restaurant. I always wanted to be my own boss. I always wanted to see how I could be successful and attempt it. And this was an opportunity to, one, preserve a little history, but two, kind of check myself and test myself and see, and, and if I'm being honest, an easier way of doing it, which is if you go start a restaurant, you have to capture market, right? Speaker 2 00:48:27 There's already a market segment that exists and if you open up a restaurant and you're trying to wedge your way into that market segment and steal customers and steal business and, you know, there's only, there's a finite amount of money being spent, uh, it's a growing amount, but it's still finite. It's not an endless amount. Um, whereas with Guss, I already had market segment and so it was a way to again, test and see if I was gonna be able to be self-motivating, be uh, somebody that upheld standards, be somebody that could be a boss and be a reasonable human being and elevate other folks. And so Gus was that opportunity and still trying to be the best version of myself every day and falling short, but gonna get up tomorrow and try again. Speaker 3 00:49:14 Well look man, everybody loves Gus's hotdogs. He, my dad, I told him that you were coming on and he was like, I've loved Gus my whole life. You know, it's, it's uh, like you said, it's a Birmingham institution and everybody loves hotdogs. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:49:26 Oh, uh, thank my father cuz he is, uh, a constant source of great ideas and he'll get down on himself, be like, I'm just an old guy, you don't want to hear my opinions. Like, no, I always want to hear your opinion. Always. I always want to hear it for multiple reasons. But the big one is because it means you care. And then secondary is cuz they're usually really good ideas. Every now and then there's a bad one, but you know, that's not that big a deal. Um, there are other Gus, so we own the original location open in 1947 in downtown Birmingham. There's one in Mountain Brook, they're in Crest Line Village. There's one in Adamsville. They're all great. None of us are related. We all vary slightly. We have different menus, different ownership. And um, you know, it's one of those things where we we're always rooting for them. Speaker 2 00:50:07 We want them to be successful. You know, there's a, there's always a little give and take. Uh, I think some of them do DoorDash and stuff like that. And we don't do DoorDash. And so I'll get a call every once in a while about DoorDash being late or whatever. It's <laugh> and I'm like, I'm really sorry, you know, like if you want to come down, I'd be happy to facilitate your happiness however I can. But I don't do DoorDash. And I always feel kind of guilty about that because again, my job is, it's taking care of people that's like, that's all I want to do. That's all my job description is. How do I take care of people at the restaurant? So that's what we try to do. And every now and then the uh, the state of the industry makes that a little difficult and covid made things a little difficult. Uh, Speaker 3 00:50:50 Absolutely. Speaker 2 00:50:51 You know, I'm just really thankful we were able to survive. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:50:54 How many restaurants didn't make it through, you know, Speaker 2 00:50:56 A lot, but a lot of ones. And that provided opportunity for other people. That's a little bit callous. It's that, it's the nature capitalism to a certain extent. It's just kind of weird. It's a weird state. It's a weird thing to describe because there's so many people that lost their livelihood and I feel for them and I, I wish there was, you know, better or more direct support for them in some way. And you know, but I also, you know, at a certain point, like necessity is the mother of invention. And when things changed, were you able to pivot? So we found out that things were gonna start happening and I think February 2nd we basically shut down the restaurant. We sat down with LA and we talked about how can we run this restaurant and keep each other safe. So we upped the speed of our hood vent to facilitate faster air circulation. I spent god knows how much money on masks. Yeah. Uh, and we essentially ran the restaurant. As you drive up, we are standing in the front door, we take your order, we rotate back and forth and nobody came in the building for two months. Speaker 3 00:52:11 I think just the way that your restaurant is, is built and situated. It's actually perfect for curbside. Speaker 2 00:52:16 It is. It's also like it changed everything. So we used to have a pretty dedicated group of individuals that would come in, have a seat, and just hang out for an hour and eat five or six hotdogs and like talk sports, talk lives, talk, whatever. You know, it was part cheers, part sports bar, part barbershop and it still has that vibe, but the volume of individuals that like plant their butt in a seat and do that is decreased significantly. And I don't know if we'll ever get it back. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:52:47 Um, just looking at how Katie and I do things, we do get takeout a lot more now than we ever have. And part of that's of course because we have a baby, but even before she was born, we, after Covid, we absolutely got takeout and bring home way more often than we would normally have gone and just sit down in a restaurant. So it did change the way that we do things. Yeah. So I guess that's true for a lot of people. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:53:08 I think people go out more, but they, it's a different level of it. And I, I don't have any data to back this up. I wish I did. I wish I was the Natural National Restaurant Association that like had hold cart heart facts to show you how this happened. But I don't, uh, it's just an emotional plea that I see people go out and they're going out a lot, especially now cuz they are tired of being cooped up and they're excited to have an opportunity to go out and do things. But it's just a different standard and a different level of it. Man, we had to like, make the conscious effort to be like, no more, no more delivery services. We'll still call like Surin or you know, sushi Village and go pick up stuff, um, or go to the drive through at Purple Onion and things like that. But very rarely do we, I can't think of the last time we used DoorDash years. So it's uh, it's expensive too, man. Speaker 3 00:54:03 Those delivery fees plus the service fee. Yeah. They <laugh> by the time I get to the final screen I'm like, this is really stacked up <laugh> Speaker 2 00:54:10 So quick. Um, so it's one of the reasons we don't do it because, so my hot dog's supposed to be affordable, right? Like and realistically like where do you go for lunch to spend under 10 bucks? Speaker 3 00:54:25 Yeah. There, there are not many places anymore. I remember when I was growing up, you know, uh, my buddies and I would ride our bicycles around town in Monte Vallow and uh, would get me five bucks if we wanted to stop by McDonald's and get some food. Five bucks even on the dollar menu. Now that probably wouldn't get you much anymore. Um, I feel like such an old man talking about the way things used to be, but I, you know, this is the first time in my life that even at the grocery store we're like, you can actually tell that things are, are a lot more costly than they have been in the past. Speaker 2 00:54:52 And it's getting better in that things aren't like climbing at the rate they were. Yeah. But I, I don't think you're gonna see things go down and I mean that's kind of across the board, just things are just different, right? Like the cost of a TV's going down every day, the cost of a house is going up every day. So you know, you're gonna have things that are rotating in and out. Um, the big one for us are like the value added products. And so, you know, a hotdog, right? It requires somebody to make sure that it's standardized. You have to pay the FDA guys to come in and like check everything. So there's a lot going on with a hotdog as opposed to a tomato, right? Which is plant pick go. So hotdog prices of shot up bread, prices shot up, paper prices have shot up. Speaker 2 00:55:39 Glove prices are going down at peak, like pandemic a box of a thousand gloves, it's like 250 bucks, 300 bucks gloves now right around 30, 40 bucks. Yeah. So it's a huge difference. Um, I, I'm one of the few places where you can go and get two hotdogs, a chip and a soda for eight 50 taxes included. Which means that for two hotdogs with mustard, onions, crout, if you don't like onions, you don't have to get onions. If you want extra crowd, we're not gonna charge you. If you want it murdered with sauce, that's awesome. I, it makes me so happy. Just let us know and we'd be happy to do it. No issue whatsoever. You can get that for eight 50 tax included. So if you subtract the 10%, 1% city, 1% county, 8% state sales tax, you're sitting around 7 77 65 for a meal that is going to at the very least make sure you make it to dinner without getting hungry. That's a big deal to me. Now if you come in and you want like the quarter pound all beef hotdog with mustard, onion, crout, chili slaw, ground beef, love, shame, everything in between on Speaker 3 00:56:42 Sesame seed bun, Speaker 2 00:56:43 Right? Like there, there are cost associated with that and I think it's like $5 for the hotdog rather than three. Right. But again, that's, it's still not bad. Speaker 3 00:56:54 That's a big hotdog too. Speaker 2 00:56:55 That's a big hotdog. I mean our cheeseburger, mayo, lettuce, tomato, mustard, onions, pickles, secret sauce on a locally made bun. The uh, tomatoes are from Alabama, the lettuce is from Alabama. The onions are cut fresh every day. Like all that five 50 tax. Speaker 3 00:57:10 Y'all have burgers Speaker 2 00:57:11 Too? Yeah, man. Uh, I did not know that. So when George ran the spot, he would sell maybe like 20 burgers a day. We use Evan's meats and we promote that and man a flat top burger. It's kind of got like, it's like part smash burger now. We don't like ball it up and then smash it, but it is um, a burger that goes flat and it has all those like contact points on the flat top so it gets those like crispy bits on the outside. It's fire. Uh, Speaker 3 00:57:35 I mean it sounds like it. Do y'all have chili dogs too? Speaker 2 00:57:37 Yeah, we have chili dogs too. Speaker 3 00:57:38 Big fan of chili cheese dogs. Speaker 2 00:57:40 Um, I love our uh, polish sausage with the chili cheese dogs. So the polish sausage in the grind, they grind bell peppers and onions and then they smoke it. And so that smokey flavor with the bell pepper and onion on the chili. Awesome. Really awesome. Speaker 3 00:57:56 Growing up when we would ride our bikes all around town, like I mentioned there was in Montevallo there was a sneaky peats and a gas station all the way across town. You had to go over a really sketchy long bridge. Actually oddly it's the only bridge in America that crosses a river, a railroad truck and a road. That bridge is in Monte. We'd have to drive our bikes all the way across that very narrow bridge. Semi-trucks whizzing by. But we wanted a junkyard dog. Yeah. So we're gonna try ride our bikes three miles to get that And uh, it was just like this big <laugh>, just a little, it's everything on this dog. Yeah. But uh, it sounds kinda like the one you're describing, but you're We do a Speaker 2 00:58:36 Junkyard. Speaker 3 00:58:36 You Speaker 2 00:58:36 Do? Yeah. So, um, mustard onion. So all the dogs come mustard onion, that's like the standard hot dog. Like I get people be like, oh I gotta talk to people later. I don't want onions. Like just tell 'em you had gues. They'll be like, man, why didn't you bring me any? Like get the onions man. They make the hotdog. Yeah. So mustard onions come on everything. And then from there I like crowd. We don't do crowd on the chili dog, but everything else gets crowded. Um, and then we add coleslaw, chili, ground beef, secret sauce, that's our junkyard. And it is um, it's a lot. It's Speaker 3 00:59:07 A big boy dog. Um, Speaker 2 00:59:08 So we're, you know, we're always looking at new things, right? We're always trying to, I'm never gonna take anything off the menu, right? This is not how I want to operate. I don't ever want to take something away, but I might like run specials occasionally or I might bring new things in. So la and I got together and we found an all beef bologna we really like. And so we didn't have any breakfast items that were not pork, right? You have bacon, you have sausage, you have cona. Everything's pork. Pork, pork. So what they're people that don't eat pork. So we got an all beef bologna and it is ridiculous. We make a killer bologna sandwich. We got together and we had some guest ask for some, you know, non meat items. So we called beyond and we have a Beyond Brot and we have a pan in the back that's never had meat touch it. Speaker 2 00:59:54 And we cook a beyond Brot. So if you want a hot dog and you don't eat meat or maybe you're just trying to consume less meat, that's fine too. Judgment free. Come on down, get a Beyond Broth. We have a Beyond Burger, same thing. I have a guy that comes in and gets two Beyond Burgers every single day and it's, you know, for whatever reason he doesn't want to deal with the beef, whether it's ethical or health or environmental. It's not on my business. Why? It's my job to take care of him. Yeah. So that's what we're gonna do. I am trying to find a gluten-free hotdog bun. Personally, I I don't like gluten-free. I don't, it's not my cup of tea. Yeah. Speaker 3 01:00:29 I take extra gluten, but yeah, Speaker 2 01:00:30 It doubled me up. Um, but at the same time, like that's none of my business. If I can find something that takes care of a, a market segment and one, I can, we talked about capturing markets earlier. If I can be the person that everybody knows will take like hell yeah. That's what's up. Yeah, that's what we want to do. Speaker 3 01:00:48 Well Lee, thanks for coming on man. Let's go ahead and wrap up. I know you got stuff to do the rest of the day. You got slinging hot dogs and all that good stuff. Yeah, Speaker 2 01:00:54 You're gonna have some fun. I gotta go to the dentist. It's gonna be awesome. Speaker 3 01:00:57 Oh man, I, I'm glad you said that. I actually need to make an appointment as well. <laugh> <laugh>, one of those things, you gotta happen when you have a sweet tooth the way I do, you gotta go to the dentist. Yeah, absolutely. Well, Lee Penasas, thank you for coming on my man Gus's hotdogs. I'll link to everything in the show notes, but it's been a pleasure. Thanks Speaker 2 01:01:11 For putting up with me. Speaker 3 01:01:12 Absolutely. Speaker 0 01:01:32 This Paul made me cry.

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