Jason Hanson, a 41-year-old Georgia native and a veteran worker of the restaurant and bar scene, has seen more trends than most. Nearby Brookhaven became chic. Buckhead came and went. And sleepy Chamblee finally started to wake up.
Embracing a trend, he started—but not quickly enough—a corner coffee shop. Hanson opened in 2008, around the time that “everything hit the fan [in the economy],” he said, “and business started to plateau.”
Yet, instead of writing off the venture, Hanson opened his eyes a little more. “The area isn’t quite as eclectic yet; it’s just starting,” he said. “A lot of people came in looking for food, so we started doing things different than just pastries.”
The biggest difference came after last year’s “Taste of Chamblee” festival. That’s when Hanson really saw a local fondness for hot dogs – and the coffee shop did a turnabout.
“We had an outdoor event under a hot tent in August, [supposedly] selling hot coffee and pastries that’ll go bad in an hour,” he said. “We came up with the idea of doing hot dogs. Between 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. we had 800 dogs and brats sold out—three hours before the event finished.
“So we were like, ‘hey, let’s switch.’”
Fast food restaurants along adjacent Peachtree Industrial would have been a nearby competitive concern. A little research, though, revealed that if the menu stuck to dog-related items, such as brats and polish sausages, soon-to-be conceived Chamblee Doghouse could corner a geographical niche.
“We found that there are other locations [doing the same food], but we were right in the middle [of their points of location],” said Hanson, who grew up a fan of hot dog-selling kings and The Varsity and the Nu-Way Café in Macon. “So we wouldn’t be competing with them, but instead complementing the area’s other food options.”
Pizza and ice cream places are a couple of blocks down the road from Doghouse’s Peachtree location, heading into the town’s slowly redeveloping Antiques Row district.
Another key decision in restarting Hanson’s business, he said, was choosing a popular supplier: Vienna Beef. Considered a “top-of-the-line” dog maker, Vienna Beef helps its clients by kicking in promotional material and condiments, such as its famed poppy seed buns.
While change has benefited Hanson, a similar shift of thinking is something he’d like to see from the city, which turned down an alcohol license request.
Chamblee’s zoning ordinances make it nearly impossible to sell alcohol, in an effort to avoid a bar culture, said Hanson, who keeps a petition with signatures at the register.
In the meantime, meals can only come with soft drinks. Hanson remains positive.
“Every day it’s consistent [now], “It’s going good. The food is something that people who live around here want. The can walk and not have to drive to get a quick, easy meal that tastes good.”
For more information, visit www.chambleedoghouse.com or call 678-691-3578.