Not too long ago, some of the best hot dogs near downtown Raleigh came with nothing more than mustard, chili, onions and – if you were lucky – ketchup.
Nowadays, creative recipes, local ingredients and craft beers have elevated what customers want from restaurants – even those that serve something as simple as hot dogs, french fries and beer.
Owner Brett Wells hopes to capitalize on just that with Tasty 8’s Gourmet Hot Dog Co., a restaurant with a simple but unexpected menu of hot dogs and sausages topped with ingredients as assorted as fried okra, pimento cheese, cucumber, Philly steak, guacamole and Sriracha hot sauce.
“They are all really, really good,” Wells said. “We spent three months food testing and getting them just right.”
The restaurant offers most everything in “eights,” serving eight types of hot dogs, microbrews, milkshakes, soft drinks and dipping sauces.
Those eight franks, served on buns from Raleigh-based Neomonde bakery, include the “Yo Adrian,” a certified Angus beef dog with Philly steak, peppers, onions and Cheez Whiz; the “El Perro,” a jalapeno-cheddar-buffalo brat with queso con chorizo, guacamole, Mexican crema and salsa; and the “Tree Hugger,” a vegetarian dog made from falafel and topped with arugula, lemon vinaigrette, cucumber and tomato.
The restaurant also serves Belgian frites, which are soaked in a brine before they’re cooked, along with sweet potato fries and corn dogs, one of which is wrapped in french fries and then fried.
Tasty 8’s is also working with local breweries such as Raleigh Brewing, Aviator and Crank Arm for its beer selection, and Wells expects to rotate those eight taps monthly, he said.
Milkshakes include flavors such as the “Momma Wells’ Tasty Treat” with peanut butter, fudge and banana, and the “Salty Dog” made with salted caramel mocha.
Prices range from $4.88 for corn dogs and shakes to $6.88 for hot dogs. Combos that include a hot dog, Belgian frites and a dipping sauce are $8.88.
Wells, a dentist who co-owns Downtown Dental and owns Wells Family Dentistry, both in Raleigh, spent about $130,000 to make “drastic changes” and upfit the 1,600-square-foot former Spize Cafe space.
The fast-casual restaurant has a walk-up, take-out window and a 20-foot bar top that sits along a 20-foot-wide garage door that opens.
“(People) can hang out and watch Fayetteville Street” said Wells, a Raleigh native. “It will be good for all the festivals on the street.”
Tasty 8’s seats about 45 inside and has bistro and picnic tables outside.
Wells hopes his menu of things that come in eights will not only draw people for lunch and dinner, but also bring in a late-night crowd by staying open until 3 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Tasty 8’s, which opens Friday, is at 121 Fayetteville St.
Iced Cupcakes, which has been serving sweet treats out of a 1978 postal Jeep for more than a year, has opened a brick-and-mortar store in Raleigh.
Cupcakes are $3, and include red velvet, chocolate and “Wedding Bells” with vanilla cake, almond buttercream and pearl sprinkles, along with flavors such as “Tee Time,” a lemon cake with sweet tea buttercream frosting and “Summer Breeze,” which is vanilla cake with lemon buttercream topped with a blueberry glaze.
The 1,200-square-foot shop will also carry Raleigh’s Benelux coffee and Durham’s BROOD soda.
Owner Allison Mecca, who started delivering her cupcakes to homes and offices in March 2013 and started selling them out of the jeep in July 2013, will still operate the Jeep at at food truck and other events.
Iced Cupcakes is at 5911 Poyner Village Parkway, Suite 103.
World of Beer, a bar and restaurant franchise that offers more than 500 bottles of craft beer, is opening in Cary.
The 3,500-square-foot space will have 55 daily rotating taps with locals such as Big Boss, Raleigh Brewing, Deep River and Fortnight, along with cocktails and wine.
The menu will consist of foods like chicken and waffles and Bavarian pretzels.
World of Beer, which is the Triangle’s second location, will be at 2036 Renaissance Park Place, near Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Its Sept. 2 grand opening will have live music, raffles and beer samples.
Bedroom & Sofa Emporium, a 21-year-old furniture store in Cary, is closing once it sells its inventory, said owner John Matthews.
Furniture discounts range from 40 to 70 percent; pictures are 80 percent off.
The store is at 6480 Tryon Road, near Lowes Foods in the Wellington Park shopping center.
Winston-Salem-based grocery store Lowes Foods at 3480 Kildaire Farm Road in Cary is closing by Sept. 19.
Staff writer Virginia Bridges contributed.