Sully Sullivan and his daughter Cori, 8, split a dog with the works and onion rings at Cori’s DogHouse in Mt. Juliet’s Providence Marketplace. The four-month-old weenie wonderland offers 37 different species of hot dogs based on regional flavors from across the U.S.A.
KEN BECK / The Wilson PostBy KEN BECKSpecial to The Wilson Post
MT. JULIET — Sean “Sully” Sullivan’s four-month-old business has gone to the dogs — hot dogs that is.
Sullivan, 40, opened Cori’s DogHouse in Providence MarketPlace in the fall, and his frankfurter palace has been pleasing the palates of hot dog aficionados far and wide. Probably because his 37 breeds of dogs represent a wide variety of hot dog styles across the country.
“These hot dogs are excellent, full of flavor,” said Mt. Juliet’s Andrew Littlejohn, lunching here recently with his brother, Patrick. “There’s nothing like this around in the area. You get the different flavors of hot dogs from the different cities across the United States, all here in Mt. Juliet.”
The occasion marked Littlejohn’s 10th trip to the DogHouse as he test drove an Jersey Italian hot dog down the hatch.
Sullivan’s decision to open a hot dog-themed eatery did not come in haste. He contemplated it long and hard.
“I set my sights on opening a hot dog place. I’ve traveled across the country and lived in five states. I never lived in a place where it was so difficult to find a hot dog. Nashville just didn’t really have any although a few have popped up downtown in the last four or five years,” said Sullivan, who has lived in Mt. Juliet for the past eight years. “I just knew there was a place for this and thought it the right idea at the right time in the economy.
“The whole world loves hot dogs, but they’re so hard to find. You can get a burger on any corner. They serve hot dogs all over the country, so the idea was to offer hot dogs here the way they’re served all across the U.S. Nashville has really been a melting pot of people from all over the place. With 37 different flavors, you can walk in here and find a taste of home,” Sullivan said.
The giant menu pasted to the left wall advertises Sabrett all-beef hot dogs on New England-style rolls. The variety of dogs represent seven regions: the East, the Midwest, the Central states, the South, the West, the Southwest and the Pacific; and such locales as Memphis, Jersey, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Boston, New York, Pittsburgh, the Carolinas, Texas, Seattle, Los Angeles, Tijuana and Hawaii.
Cori’s DogHouseThirty-seven different styles of hot dogs are the main attraction at this frankfurter palace in Suite 360 (beside Belk department store) of the Providence Marketplace Shopping Center at 401 S. Mt. Juliet Road. Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Phone: 758-6960.Other gastronomic delicacies here include Philly beef sandwiches, fried bologna sandwiches, hand-dipped corn dogs and fried Twinkies.
The wieners are split open and fried on a flat-top grill as the bread is buttered and toasted on the grill.
“Everybody seems to have had a hot dog experience. For me it was Woolworth’s hot dogs,” said the native of El Cerrito, Calif., in the Napa Valley. “So these are sort of modeled after them.”
Each hot dog sells for $3.75 with no extra charge for the toppings. A dog with fries and soft drink runs just shy of $8.
“The most important thing about my place is that everything we do here is fresh. The only thing that comes in frozen is the meat. The bread is made in Nashville and delivered daily. The fries are hand cut and we hand-bread the onion rings,” the restaurateur said.
Sullivan named his hot dog diner after his daughter, Cori, 8, a third grader at Stoner Creek Elementary School, and she was assisting during the holiday break.
“I help him batter onion rings. I clean the dishes sometimes. I help take orders at the cash register,” said Cori, who estimates she has consumed about 21 hot dogs since the restaurant opened.
She can’t pick a favorite dog. “I like ketchup and mustard and sometimes I’ll get some other stuff. I’m a simple girl.”
But she was thrilled when her father announced his intentions.
Hot dog chef Charles Clingensmith prepares split Sabrett all-beef hot dogs and butter-toasted bread on a flat-top grill at Cori’s DogHouse in Mt. Juliet.“I really like hot dogs and was glad that my dad would open his own restaurant and name it after me,” she said. Her schoolmates know about the eatery: “They all pretty much love it a lot.”
The same sentiment evidently agrees with Steve and Kris Stokes of Nashville who were in on a recent afternoon, their third trip to Cori’s DogHouse in two weeks.
“A musician buddy told me it was excellent,” said Steve in the act of downing a dog in the middle of the restaurant where the walls are painted a bright red and yellow as are the chairs. The diner seats 18, and there is patio seating outside for a dozen.
Sullivan has 20 years in the restaurant business and has managed a number of clubs and restaurants. “I’ve done it all in this business,” he said.
That includes managing a Hooter’s in Reno, serving as food and beverage director of Windtree Golf Course and working as general manager of The Trap in downtown Nashville.
“I spent a year not sleeping, worrying what kind of business I would get and it has been exceeded by 300 percent,” Sullivan said. “This is fun for me. More than a job. It’s a hobby, a love. It’s fun.”
He mentioned that a construction worker has downed 34 of the 37 styles of hot dogs since they opened. By the end of January, Sullivan will offer a flavorful challenge.
“We will have a card with each flavor and plan to mark it off as you eat them. Anybody that eats all 37 will get a T-shirt, their photo on the wall and the hot dog of their choice,” he said.
But then you’re hearing this from the lips of the newly enthroned Hot Dog King of Mt. Juliet, a man whose philosophy is “sometimes it’s good to be in the doghouse.”
Ken Beck may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.