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Delving Into 'Dogs, One Wienerschnitzel at a Time


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We couldn't taste it, but the Bacon Ranch Dog at Wienerschnitzel looks dee-lish.

The crack edit team at Franchise Times is well into a multi-part investigation these days, delving into the world of hot dogs and rating them from A+ to gross. But one brand we don’t have in our fair twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul is Wienerschnitzel—a pity, because it’s the largest franchised hot dog chain, with 320 locations in 10 states. So I called them up to dish about their dog.

“People seem to like the ‘back-to-Americana’ feel of our operation,” says Ted Milburn, director of franchise development for the 55-year-old West Coast-based brand. “It’s chili cheese dogs, chili dogs—you’re not going to see a kale salad on our menu, OK?”

Wienerschnitzel is beginning to sign multi-unit operators as franchisees, after years of no growth. “We became a flat brand, and coming out of the recession, how do I say, had no punch into the market.”

The latest is a multi-unit deal in San Antonio, where long-time Shipley Do-Nuts franchisee Patrick Alba of PBA Properties has signed on. Milburn says a new, smaller-footprint store dubbed “heritage” is attracting interest, because it’s a 744-square-foot store with a drive-thru on a 15,000-square-foot pad. The first and only one so far is in El Paso, Texas, with no dine-in seating; they’re working on a slightly bigger design with indoor seats for colder climes.

As for competition, like Burger King’s big splash into hot dogs earlier this year and the impetus for our latest editorial eating project, Milburn says bring it on. Burger King’s move was “awesome. They brought attention to hot dogs. Our sales rocketed,” he says.

”You’re going to find there’s a lot of these new places, like DogHaus and other cool concepts. I’m a fan,” because he likes to see what others are up to.

But he’ll stand by the proprietary recipes for both Wienerschnitzel chili and its hot dogs. “The chili has been under secret lock and key since day one,” he declares. He also touts the steamed buns that help the brand serve hot dogs hot. And he likes their price. “You can get five regular chili dogs for $5.95,” he says. “I wish I could bring you one right now. It would put a smile on your face.”

Maybe so, but since we sampled nine different dogs in one day this past Monday, I’ve been consigned to kale salad for the rest of the week. Watch for our full report in the June/July issue of Franchise Times.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is associate editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is editor-in-chief of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
 
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is staff writer at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonLaura Michaels is managing editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
 twitter.com/mlarson1011.
 
Nancy WeingartnerNancy Weingartner is editor-at-large of Franchise Times magazine and the editor of the Food On Demand media project. You can reach her at 612-767-3200 or at nancyw@franchisetimes.com.
Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nanweingartner.
 

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