Jonny B’z Dogs and More
I’m not a hot dog fan yet I really want to be. I don’t know what it is about hot dog places that always call to me. I really want eat hot dogs like I do hamburgers. There’s such a great sub-culture of hot dog connoisseurs and I’ve always wanted to be one of those people.
I’m not though, so it’s hard for me to actually walk in to a hot dog joint, but a new place on Wealthy Street SE in Grand Rapids offers up more than just hot dogs.
Jonny B’z (sic) Dogs and More is the newest addition to a thriving hot dog scene in Grand Rapids. It’s actually a pretty gutsy move on the part of the owners considering they set up shop just down the road from what is probably the most popular hot dog shop in West Michigan. I would do the whole compare and contrast thing, but again, not a hot dog guy. It’s the “and More” that got me in to Jonny B’z.
The joint is located in an older building near the corner of Wealthy Street and Henry Avenue. There’s not a lot of parking in the area and street parking is about your only choice. I drove around the block a couple times and still ended up parking around the corner and walking back.
More than anything, the owners need to be recognized for what they’ve done with what was once a dilapidated building. If you put the address into Google then switch to street view, you won’t find this nice building. What you’ll find is an old, boarded up, run down pile of rubble. I never would have thought the picture I found on Google would be the same place.
Jonny B’z actually takes up what used to be two storefronts. The main entrance leads in to a pretty typical hot dog joint. There are a couple tables and even a counter if you prefer to eat standing up. The order counter fronts the kitchen and you can watch your food being made which really provided me with a lot of information.
What makes Jonny B’z unique is the menu. If you’re ordering a dog, you start with a plain dog then add toppings. There is no charge per topping, so you can get what you want and still pay the same price. The dogs they use are all-beef Chicago red hots that are served on a buttered New England Style bun. Oh, and the dogs are grilled, not boiled.
The burgers get the same treatment as the dogs. I ordered a double cheeseburger. The guy taking my order asked what toppings I wanted and I kind of stared blankly at him. He pointed to the list of hot dog toppings and said I could have any or all of them. Not being a topping guy, I went with only the Beef Chili. I also tacked on an order fries.
The total for my meal was a little over $7 and I got it to go. While I waited, I got a great view of the kitchen, so I could see my food being prepared. That made my mouth water even more.
First up, the hamburgers went on the grill. The cook threw to pieces of fresh ground beef on to the grill and flattened it out with the back of his spatula. They cooked on a flattop for about five minutes then he threw a piece of cheese on each patty. While that was going, the pulled out an oddly shaped bun and ran it over a butter wheel next to the grill. Not sure if you’ve eve seen these things, but they are perforated so they actually puncture the bun and get butter into the bread. The bun then went down on the grill to warm up and brown while the meat cooked.
When everything was ready, the bun was pulled off the grill and the meat was layered up then topped with chili, wrapped in wax paper and put into a cardboard box. The fries were then dumped into the box and the whole thing was handed to me still open. They do that because there are shakers of salt on the counter. These aren’t just the typical table salts. You actually have a choice of peppered bacon salt, Mediterranean blend, or vinegar salt. I wanted to try all three, but I went with the peppered bacon and put a pretty healthy dose on my fries.
Of course, I ate the fries on my short drive back to work. They were skin on and fried perfectly. The peppered bacon salt is fantastic. It combines three of my favorite things. Bacon, salt, and French Fries. I couldn’t get enough of them and was just a little sad when the box was empty.
The burger was everything I hoped it would be when I saw it being cooked. It was juicy and tender. The bun was really interesting. I wish I knew more about it because it’s obviously specially made.
The chili at Jonny B’z is just that. Chili. It’s not Coney Sauce and I’ve seen interviews with the owners where they seem to take offense to the idea of that. They don’t sell Coney dogs. They sell Chili Dogs. One of the owners is a Southern boy where they don’t have Coney dogs. With that said, the chili did seem similar to a Coney sauce. It was pretty much meat and liquid. No beans or veggie fillers which is exactly how I like it. The chili did get kind of lost on the burger though. I made sure to pull some off to make sure I got a good taste of it. It was delicious, but I wouldn’t recommend it on a burger. The flavors are too similar.
As far as the “and More” goes, I loved Jonny B’z. The shop has been open only since the middle of May and they seem to have a pretty good buzz around town. They do have some PR issues though. There’s no phone number listed anywhere and the website they have listed on the back of their carry-out menus (http://www.jonnybzdogs.com) hasn’t even been bought. They do seem pretty active on Facebook, but with no phone number listed, I can’t see how they would take call-in orders. Not a big deal. Getting my meal didn’t take very long. I was close to work, but I was still back in about fifteen minutes.
I was very happy with my Jonny B’z experience. They may be a hot dog joint, but they don’t ignore the rest of their menu.