LATHROP – Rosella Berry didn’t want to open a hot dog restaurant.
The San Jose native that sold her share in a body shop to move to the Central Valley to care for her ailing grandparents tried everything she could to convince the rest of her family that a collision repair business was the way to go when they decided to partner together on a venture.
She lost the vote, and Flying Dogs was born.
Back in March the unique haunt opened its doors inside of the Save Mart shopping center off of Harlan and Lathrop roads. It has been slowly building a customer base of both local residents and out-of-town workers that hammer the staff during the lunch hour.
The idea was Berry’s grandfather’s – a man, she says, that loves spending time at the ballpark and wanted to do something that recreated that same feeling he gets when he orders up a classic slice of Americana whenever enjoying a game.
“He had already thought about it and talked to people about it and when he came to me, I was against it,” she said. “He knew that my little brother and I had culinary arts in our background so it should have been a no-brainer – and easy 1-2-3.
“So we all took a vote, and it’s obvious how it turned out. So here I am.”
These might be Berry’s grandfather’s hot dogs, but there’s a good chance that they probably aren’t your grandfather’s hot dogs.
A simple glance at the menu showcases a broad range of options that you don’t ever think could be coupled with one of the classic barbecue staples that’s grilled up and served up on a bun to the kids during a holiday weekend.
If you’re from any metropolitan area, it’s the steamed hot dog that you’re more than likely used to. Flying Dogs has those too. But they serve theirs up with a lot more than just mustard and relish – offering up things like cream cheese, nacho cheese sauce and a habanero and pineapple combination that offers an explosion of flavor that can’t be described.
Not all of those come on the same bun of course.
Customers get their choice of either steamed, grilled or deep fried hot dogs, and most of the items on the menu are served with fries. Initial menu prices were lowered after customers commented that they felt they were too high, and the menu – every member of the family offered up three concoctions of their own that were placed on the menu for the soft opening – was cut back to cater to the things that the customers wanted.
In the end, it’s all about the customers.
“To be honest, there really isn’t anything that’s difficult about doing this,” said Berry. “It’s all about making your customers happy and putting out a good product. The concept is very simple, and that’s why a lot of people are able to do it from a cart.
“Right now it’s about getting our name out to the public and letting the people locally know that we’re here and we’re ready for them. That’s what we’re working on right now.”
Flying Dogs is located at 15106 S. Harlan Road next to Starbucks. The business is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 7 p.m. For additional information call 209.858.5000 or search www.facebook.com or Flying Dogs Lathrop.