Two years ago, a couple of dreamers opened a restaurant in the middle of a recession. Some people called them crazy, but now it's those owners who are the ones laughing.
You won't find lobster, steak or escargot on the menu at the New York Dawg Pound located at 7702 Shawnee Mission Parkway in Overland Park - here it's all about the hotdog.
KCTV5's Faces of Kansas City first introduced viewers to the owners Sal Frustaci and Will Brown more than a year and a half ago. Both had lost their jobs in the recession, but gambled that a gourmet hot dog restaurant would succeed.
"Here we are - it's a great feeling," Frustaci said.
Their restaurant was just named as one of the top emerging businesses in the state by the Kansas Small Business Development Center.
"It's almost like validation of your hard work; it's somebody else saying you did a good job," Brown said. "It's a culmination of everything you've worked for. It's like, 'OK, you've done it.'"
But pleasing the customers' taste buds is the ultimate goal and they seem to be succeeding.
"I'm originally from Chicago and this is as close to home as you can get," said one customer.
On the day KCTV5 visited to shoot this story, Brown worked the restaurant while Frustaci handled the catering cart feeding workers at Boulevard Brewery.
They said their recipe for success can be traced back to the free help they received from the Small Business Development Center.
"I know how to run a restaurant, but I didn't know how to be an owner - learning how to work your projections, this is what we project and this is what we think our sales will be and if this is what you can spend and she (the person with the center) really focused on the finances first," Frustaci said.
Now that their plan has served up success, the two are looking to expand. Catering events like the one at Boulevard Brewery now makes up about one-third of their total business, so they're considering adding another hot dog cart to the mix.
"The catering is just great icing on the cake. We sell a top-notch product and make sure it's at the same level as our restaurant," Frustaci said.
"What's next? More, more, more," Brown said.
The future is so bright for the Dawg Pound that the two men are also looking into plans for a second restaurant.
"We've got people all over town saying, 'why don't you come out here, come out to The Legends, come out to Lee's Summit, come out to Olathe, come out to North Kansas City.' There's room not just here locally, but throughout the entire country," Brown said.
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