Hot Diggity Dog!
Hot Diggity Dog! Brodee Dogs serves ‘em up just like you like ‘em STORY & photos by kass fincher When Cindy and Lee Kent were deciding what to do with their little retail space in the Food Lion shopping center in Leland, they looked around to see what other businesses were located there. “We were going to put an olive oil and vinegar place here,” says Lee, “but I was standing outside looking around the parking lot and decided this was probably not the right place for that. I’ve learned in the past you have to engage people in what you want them to do. So if they’re not into that type of shopping there, you’re probably not in the right place for it. I looked around and saw everybody had hamburgers and that type of thing and I thought, well, let’s try hot dogs. That’s how Brodee Dogs came about.”
The idea also paid tribute to a long-standing family tradition from Cindy’s household. Her dad was a big hot dog fan; every Friday night was hot dog night, so why not keep that going? After deciding on hot dogs, their next decision was what to name the business. Lee laughs as he describes that process. “We were sitting around the house talking about what to name it,” he says, “and Cindy looked at me and said, ‘you know you’re missing the obvious.’ She pointed to our little dachshund and said ‘why don’t you name it after him,’ and I said yeah, Brodee Dogs, that has a nice ring to it. So that’s where we got the name.” Since the family pet Brodee is a dachshund or “weiner dog,” it all kind of made sense. The Kents then spent some time researching what other hot dog restaurants offer, and they came up with 12 specialty dogs for the initial menu. The Brodee Dog is probably the most popular – bacon wrapped with Brodee special sauce and cheddar cheese. The sauce is a secret mayonnaise-based family recipe that is a big hit. Another family specialty dog is “Papa John’s Way,” a nod to Cindy’s dad’s recipe, with yellow mustard, chili, onions and slaw. Besides the “Brunswick,” “Leland”and “Kent” specialty dogs, there are also standard options like the “Reuben,” “German” and “Tex Mex” versions. All the specialty choices are all-beef hot dogs. A simple menu was their goal, but the Kents soon recognized that not everyone would want to choose from just the specialty dog menu. Their 17-year-old son Christian brought it up. “He said, I might not want one of those one day,” says Lee. “So we came up with ‘build-a-dog,’ where you pick your options. You can pick your dog, your bun and your toppings.” The “underdog” is a beef-pork blend; the “Carolina reds” are favorites with many customers who grew up with the bright red dogs. There’s also a veggie version – the “Garden”– if that’s to your liking. “We’ve got some other sandwich options,” says Lee. “ We needed a few things other than hot dogs, alternatives for people who don’t care for hot dogs. We do a simple pimento cheese, homemade with fresh grated cheese. The chicken salad is a favorite – it’s made with rotisserie chicken. We can put it on a bed of lettuce for those who don’t want bread, especially in the summertime when people want something lighter.” They also offer a sweet Italian sausage dog, as well as the freshly ground quarter-pound hamburger. It’s not on the menu, but Kent says you can absolutely order it. Sides include fries, onion rings, tater tots and a potato knish. The latter choice, for those of us unfamiliar with it, is like a mashed potato, crushed and deep fried. “It’s called street food up in the New York area,” says Lee. “A friend of mine from there said we should offer that, and people from up there really like that.” Only open since September 2017, the Kents say business has been great. They moved to Leland 21 years ago, and today, with four children and six grandchildren, the family is committed to the community as well as several other businesses. They still plan to open the olive oil shop in another location this summer, and they are busy with other enterprises too. Next door is Kent & Co. – a ladies boutique – and there are five Vapor Shacks that they own in the region. Over the years, the Kents have seen much change in the Leland area. “When I first moved here,” Lee relates, “I could pull out on Hwy 133 and I didn’t have to look left or right. I could drive all the way to Southport and not see another car! Not the case anymore.” But the Kents recognize that this growth in the community bodes well for their business, and they support local causes to give back when they can. Among other nonprofit causes, Brodee Dogs donates 1% of gross sales to “Furever Friends,” a local group that helps pay the medical bills for local animal rescue efforts. Founder Dr. Sheila Hanby with Capeside Animal Hospital is working with the Kents to have a community fundraiser event this summer. Watch for more details ahead. Whether you’re a dog lover or a hot dog lover, it’s a great way to give back and enjoy yourself a Brodee Dog!