If JJ’s Red Hots added burgers to their menu, business would explode

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I don’t mean to diss the dog, but I wish I could order a burger from JJ’s Red Hots.

I’m not alone. The #1 response I get from people when I recommend JJ’s Red Hots for lunch is, “I’m not that into hot dogs, can we go somewhere else?”

While I love the JJ’s “No. 1” Red Hot ($3.99) — hot relish, diced onions, Weber’s Mustard, dill pickle spear — I just can’t eat it more than maybe one time a month.

Sure, adding burgers to the menu would create additional complications in the kitchen, but it’s not without precedent: JJ’s also does chicken sandwiches like the JJ Fil-A (also $3.99) — 2 marinated chicken tenders, grilled or fried, served on a Martin’s potato roll served with slaw and dill pickle.

I’m not arguing for a name change (I love the name JJ’s Red Hots). I’m just arguing for adding burgers to an already delicious, but hot-dog focused, menu.

There’s still room in Charlotte’s burger market.

Brook’s is tiny and in another section of town. Bad Daddy’s has slipped a little in quality under new ownership. Bang Bang Burgers has a strip-mall vibe.

We’re not even close to “peak burger” in Charlotte. Just wait until you see how much money Shake Shack prints when it opens up in Park Road Shopping Center.

I’m salivating just thinking about what a JJ’s Red Hots burger might taste like. I’m picturing the love child of Zack’s and Bang Bang – sesame bun with manageable beef patties that are super fresh.

cheeseburger-bang-bang-burger-1[Agenda related story: Best burgers in Charlotte? Here’s the definitive ranking of Charlotte’s top 10 burger spots]

JJ’s has Charlotte’s most underrated patio.

It pains me when I drive down East Boulevard and don’t see this patio slammed with customers. It’s the perfect spot for a casual date or a meetup with buddies.

Given the neighborhood walkability and structure, I’d love to see JJ’s do a similar business to Selwyn Pub in Myers Park – a spot that’s known as a fratty neighborhood sports bar, but also has hooked customers on their delicious pizza.

Burgers on the menu open up a whole new clientele for JJ’s.

Jonathan Luther, JJ’s owner and founder, disagrees with my assessment.

“We never tried burgers because it’s just not what we do. Our focus is on making the best hot dogs and sausages in the world. Burgers also require different equipment and a completely different service model, service times, etc.,” Jonathan explained to me. “Finally, there is way too much competition in the burger space. Our competitive advantage is being the best we can be at handcrafted hot dogs and artisanal sausages. We are the anti-burger joint!”

jjs-red-hots-hot-dog

He’s probably right, but that won’t stop me from dreaming. Hot dogs are delicious, but burgers are a crowd pleaser. It’s time for JJ’s Red Hots to please the crowd.

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Ted Williams
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Publisher, golfer, dad and magician (seriously).