Sahlen’s has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My first hot dog memories are quick flashes of red and yellow neon and brick from the Ted’s on Sheridan Drive. This was back in the early 70’s. My parents would take my sister Tiffany and I there for hot dogs in the Chevy. (Then we’d roll on over to Andersen’s for cinnamon custard and wild black cherry ice cream, but that’s a whole ‘nother story). But these weren’t just ordinary hot dogs. They were char-broiled, which gave the casing a crispy, chewy crunch. That crunch would give way to a wholesome smokiness, which – combined with the Weber’s mustard, relish and onions – created a transformational experience in my young impressionable mind that has stayed with me and will stay with me forever. I can only describe it as pure joy.
We eventually moved away form Buffalo, but when we would go to visit, Sahlen’s hot dogs would come back with us, stuffed in golf bags, coolers and wheel wells on road trips. They would typically stay in our freezer, but not for long, as my dad and I would often fire up the grill and play catch, pausing long enough to load up a red hot or three on the porch with freshly cut dill pickle spears, Weber’s mustard, diced onions and our own homemade chili relish. I will always connect these early blissful memories with the humble hot dog. It simply tastes of summer to me.
Following in my father’s footsteps, I eventually got into the restaurant business as well, and we opened a hot dog joint last July in Charlotte, North Carolina called JJ’s Red Hots. In preparation, I traveled all over the country tasting frankfurters in attempt to find the perfect one. Well I didn’t have to go far. Sahlen’s was far and away better than anybody else. Honestly, It wasn’t even close.
Then I met the people behind Sahlen’s. Prideful, committed and very passionate about what they do. Chris Cauley and Carrie Gerspach have been great partners and continue to work hard to help us succeed. They are the best partners I have ever worked with.
Now, I swell with pride when I talk about Sahlen’s to my customers. I can’t tell you how many people come up to me and tell me that it’s the best hot dog they have ever had. We are creating something unique here in the Southeast, and Sahlen’s is a huge part of our story. I couldn’t be more proud to serve their products to our guests.
Our mission statement at JJ’s Red Hots is simple. It’s two words – ‘Create Joy.’ Sahlen’s helps us do that every day.
As we often say, “There is no greater joy than a kick ass hot dog.”