Local hot dog joint makes state top ten list
Danny Rogers and his wife Barbara serve up hot dogs and barbecue three days a week. Their dog house recently made a top ten list.
By Taylor Six
Finally, there is a positive spin to the phrase “being in the dog house,” which you will discover when you pull into the gravel parking lot of Big Dan’s Hot Dog House in Irvine.
Danny Rogers and his wife of 46 years, Barbara, own and manage the small drive up restaurant which serves delicious hot dogs, slow-smoked hand-pulled pork, baked beans, slaw, chips and drinks.
Dan may be big in stature, but his ‘Dog House’ is not. The wooden structure was built by his son, Mark Rogers, and is only 256 square feet, solidifying the cliché that good things DO come in small packages.
The “Dog House” has been open for three years at 4075 Richmond Road, and it has just received a well-deserved spot on Best Things Kentucky’s Top Ten Hot Dog Joints for their chili cheese dogs.
“I don’t even own a computer, so we had no idea. It wasn’t until the Save-A-Lot cashier told my wife that we were on the list that we started looking into it to see if it was a gimmick,” said Danny Rogers. “We were pleasantly and happily surprised.”
Sure enough, it wasn’t a gimmick. Big Dan’s Hot Dog House was noted for their original and fresh homemade chili sauce which they use on their hot dogs. Rogers’ barbecue also got special mention.
Other hot dog eateries in the top ten included Sky Bridge Station of Pine Ridge; Rick’s Hot Dogs, Lexington; Sam’s Hot Dog Stand, Lexington; Skyline Chili, Louisville; Lonnie’s Best Taste of Chicago, Louisville; Harley Dogs, Covington; Papa George’s Chicago Style Hot Dogs, Radcliff; Rosenstein’s Dogs and Deli, Louisville; and Weaver’s on 4th in London.
“What is notable is that all the other places on the list are in bigger cities and face a lot of other competition within those cities, so it was really great to see ol’ Irvine on that list. This is really a recognition for our county,” said Rogers.
Rogers is a life-long native of Irvine and a former Irvine police officer. He also worked for a factory and did woodworking on the side until he suffered an injury at work which forced him to retire.
“I am not one to sit around and do nothing. Starting the ‘Dog House’ was something that we could do on our own,” said Rogers.
For a whole year, Danny and his wife scoured old family recipes and went through countless pounds of hamburger meat, reconstructing their chili until it was perfect. The couple would even host dinners to test their chili on their friends and family.
“Our goal was to make the best quality product and then worry about pricing and selling. One night I got a wild hair to throw something in the chili that no one would ever think of. I gave some to my wife to try and she said, ‘That’s it!’” Rogers said.
Rogers explained that they want to support other local businesses, so most of their supplies come from within the county. All of their recipes are homemade. Dan smokes and hand-pulls the barbecue, and he uses his and his wife’s own secret sauce recipe for both the chili and barbecue.
With all the momentum created from the recent recognition and the continued support from the county, the Rogers have big plans for their little ‘Dog House.’ The couple is already working on renovating their roadside sign and making a 20-foot wooden farm wagon table next to the ‘Dog House’ which overlooks the mountains, a spectacular view their customers can enjoy while they eat.
Rogers says that the couple is also planning to add a grilled hot dog to their menu which will include grilled peppers and sauteed onions, and they plan to add a new homemade dessert.
“You know, me and my wife have a really great product, and we are lucky that it seems quite a few people have thought the same,” said Rogers.
You can catch Big Dan in the Dog House Thursday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., or reach him at 606-723-8733.