A big thanks to Cory Lawrence of O'Doggy's Hot Dogs in Missouri. He heard about the end of Baker's & Chef's hot dogs from Sam's Club and offered up some advice for us all. Find Cory at http://www.odoggys.com/ or on his Facebook page: O'Doggy's
Just like many others around the states, we were hit by surprise when we discovered that the Bakers & Chefs brand beef franks were no longer available. We had run our supply down to about a week's worth before we left for vacation. Our intention was to return a couple days early and restock all of our supplies. We actually have a new Sam's Club nearby, so we were anxious to find out how it was. Fortunately we checked online for the availability of other products when we made the B&C discovery. We were devastated… vacation was over.
So, as I mentioned on Sunday night, we've probably tried ten or more brands of all beef hot dogs to prepare for such a day as this. We began looking a couple of years ago when we noticed some issues with B&C consistencies. First, I was amazed at the flavor differences in so many brands of all beef hot dogs. Initially we were trying to find a flavor to match the B&C flavor, but then started to conduct taste tests to find the favorite alternative.
We are fortunate to have a rep at U.S. Foods who has gone above and beyond in helping us. We tried brands we've heard of, and some we haven't heard of, and I'm certain there are many more that we haven't tried. We came to two conclusions here locally. Nathan's Famous beef franks always rose to the top for an alternative dog, and surprisingly, there is a brand that came really close to B&C in flavor and all around “cookability” (I know, I made that word up, but you understand) That brand was the Hormel all beef hot dogs. The unfortunate thing is, they are just about the same price as the Nathan's. We decided that if we had to switch brands AND raise prices, that we'd go with a name like Nathan's that people recognize and is associated with quality. Plus, it's a really good dog. It has been a hard decision, and one that we will implement in the next week or two.
Change is something most of us fight against, but there have been times in O'Doggy's past where we were “forced” to change… locations, equipment etc. As a business, we always need to be prepared to change, even if we don't want to. Our hope and prayer is that our customers and community will understand our reasons for change, and in the end, that it will have been the best direction for us. We'll always offer the experience of great service and “that hometown feeling” that people have come to love.
As advice to others facing the same predicament, I'd suggest the tried and true advice that we've all been sharing on the show. Conduct some taste tests in your area to determine the local favorite… the favorite in Tennessee may not be the favorite in your neck of the woods. Above all, offer an experience they can't get in other fast food restaurants. Talk with your customers. Get to know them. Trust me, you'll have more friends than you thought possible. Loyal customer-friends.