Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Flash

[official press release - media inquiries may be directed at Derek Farley]

JJ’s Red Hots and WCCB Charlotte Team up to Create “The Flash Dog” in Anticipation of the October 7th Premiere of “The Flash” on The CW

CHARLOTTE, September 30, 2014 – Hot Dog with a bolt of lightning, anyone?

For “The Flash,” the most anticipated premiere of the fall television season, JJ’s Red Hots and the promotions and sales team at WCCB Charlotte have created a world-class hot dog, aptly named The Flash Dog. It will be featured beginning today as part of JJ’s increasingly popular “Dog of the Week” promotion.

The Flash Dog features grated cheese and JJ’s house-made chili and Rocket Sauce.  It is topped with a sliced-by-hand then fried onion ring and topped with a streak of mustard to resemble a lightning bolt, a key component of the The Flash’s logo and uniform. The bolt on the Hot Dog was the brainchild of Richard Groves, a web designer and developer at WCCB who joined 10 of his associates last week at JJ’s in Ballantyne to bring The Flash Dog to life.

“When you’re designing a hot dog around the world’s fastest man, it needs a kick, so we went with Rocket Sauce on top of our favorite items like chili and cheese,” said Groves. “It tasted great but was missing something, so we topped it with one of JJ’s great onion rings and finished it off with a lightning bolt of mustard. We feel it’s the perfect Hot Dog.”

WCCB Charlotte is the Queen City’s local source for the latest news, sports, weather and entertainment and Charlotte’s new home for The CW. Several of the team’s associates visit JJ’s regularly and wanted to design a dog for its upcoming show The Flash, which premieres on October 7 at 8 pm on WCCB. The Hot Dog will be sold today through Sunday at Charlotte’s both locations, in Dilworth and Ballantyne. Guests with receive a free The Flash headband with each purchase of The Flash Dog.

“We always have fun designing great Hot Dogs with our fans and this one was a blast,” said Brandy Newton, JJ’s director of marketing and brand development. “WCCB did their homework, knew what they wanted and the lightning bolt at the end was just perfect. It really is an ideal Hot Dog for this great show that we’re all excited about.”

“We’ve built this great brand by listening to our fans.” said Jonathan Luther, founder and owner of JJ’s Red Hots. “And we love challenges. The Flash Dog is the product of great ingredients and great ideas. It is sure to hit at JJ’s this week as we await this great show.”

Monday, September 15, 2014

JJ’s Red Hots Helps 1060 Creative Celebrate its 10th Anniversary with a World-Class Hot Dog Named in its Honor

Local Video Production Firm Creates the “1060 Creative Dog” – A Chicago Dog with a Southern Kick – As Part of JJ’s Red Hot’s “Dog of the Week” Program

What do you do as a local creative firm when your name is so cool that it’s a Blues Brothers reference to Wrigley Field and you have a 10-year anniversary you want to celebrate? What else: create your own hot dog at JJ’s Red Hots as part of JJ’s wildly popular “Dog of the Week” promotion.

1060 Creative, a Charlotte-based ten-year tenured video production firm, whose name is a spin on 1060 West Addison – the home of the Chicago Cubs – cited in the 1980 film featuring John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd, recently designed the “1060 Creative Dog,” which will be featured at JJ’s Red Hots two Charlotte locations, in Ballantyne and Dilworth, beginning today.

“It’s a Southern spin on a Chicago Hot Dog,” says 1060 Creative co-founder Anthony Proctor, who, along with colleagues Claire Bingham and Peter Baker, frequents the Charlotte-based Premium Hot Dog restaurant religiously. “We love JJ’s. The food is incredible and the place just has super personality. When we asked them if we could design our own Hot Dog, they didn’t blink. We have created a masterpiece that we know everyone will enjoy.”

The 1060 Creative Dog features vinegar-based BBQ relish, fried pickle chips, onions, tomatoes, sport peppers, ranch dressing drizzle and chip seasoning. The 1060 Creative team perfected the 1060 Creative Dog under the direction of JJ’s owner and founder Jonathan Luther and JJ’s director of marketing and brand development Brandy Newton this past Friday at the JJ’s in Dilworth.

“We love it when our fans ask us if they can design a JJ’s Hot Dog,” said Newton. “It tells us they love our brand and want to be a part of it. In our business, there’s nothing more emotionally gratifying than that.”

JJ’s is on an unprecedented and undeniable roll, having been recently honored by Fast Casual as one of 2014’s Top 50 restaurants in addition to cleaning house on all Charlotte lists as the city’s best Hot Dog. It was the smallest chain in the Fast Casual list and the only Hot Dog/Sausage concept to receive the honor. JJ’s recently opened its third location, its first on a college campus, at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Their Dog of the Week program, which features collaborations with local businesses, brand fans and celebrities, was also featured in USA Today.

“We’ve built this great brand with our guests and we always value their input,” said Luther. “We feel the 1060 Creative Dog will appeal to those from Chicago who find themselves in the Queen City and all of our JJ’s regulars and guests who are craving a great Hot Dog.” for more info, menus, locations, etc. 

Explaining the hot dog build order

Relish taste testing

1060 Creative's Peter Baker building the Souther Chicago Dog

Anthony, Claire and Peter 

First bite

1060 Creative Hot Dog

... Paired with a local craft brew by OMB

1060 Creative + JJs Red Hots

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hot Dog Training | FAU Edition

We're down in Boca Raton this week for staff training. The Florida Atlantic University campus is already a little brighter :) 

Just a handful of photos for now... more to come in the coming weeks. Scheduled opening is August 18. EEEEEK!

equipment delivery


digital menu boards

and you thought hot dogs would be the first item on the grill.....

pickled jalapenos. they're a favorite in south florida. 

How do we train? It's simple, really. Here's a snap shot of our hot dog and sausage build guide designed by the incredibly talented Matt Stevens


Friday, June 20, 2014

Pop Culture [...continued]

[official press release below] 

JJ’s Red Hots Teams with King of Pops for the Ultimate Popsicle: JJ’s Red Pop

Charlotte Collaboration Leads to a Frozen Masterpiece of Chocolate, Bacon, Cayenne and Sea Salt

JJ’s Red Hots, the Charlotte-based Hot Dog King, which recently won its second consecutive Voters’ Choice Best of the Best award from Charlotte Magazine, announced it has teamed with southern popsicle magnate King of Pops to create the ultimate summer treat: JJ’s Red Pop, a finely crafted gourmet popsicle featuring Chocolate, House-Smoked Candied Bacon, Cayenne and Sea Salt.  

Beginning Friday, June 20, JJ’s Red Pop will be sold at JJ’s Red Hots two locations in Charlotte, Dilworth and Ballantyne, and at Charlotte King of Pops locations … just look for the cool carts with rainbow umbrellas.

“This ain’t a frozen hot dog on a stick, because you know we Don’t ‘Dis The Dog,” said JJ’s owner and founder Jonathan Luther. “This is collaboration between two of Charlotte’s most unique brands to create a popsi-fudgi-baconsicle that you’ll never forget. It’s sweet, smoky, salty and spicy – all at the same time.  These guys at KOP are quite remarkable.

"King of Pops has been truly fortunate and lucky to have formed such a great partnership with JJ's Red Hots,” said KOP’s Chief Poperating (that’s not a typo) Officer Brandon DeCurtins. “They are the best at what they do and so are we, so we felt we’d align our teams to make the best possible, genuinely unique product that creatively represents our respective brands and more importantly benefits our and JJ’s customers."

“JJ’s two-word mission statement is ‘Create Joy,’ and if we have to freeze something and put it on a stick to create joy, we will,” said JJ’s director of marketing and brand development Brandy Newton. “We are having a lot of fun working with King of Pops and know that this is just the beginning of a great relationship.”

JJ’s, which regularly nabs ‘Best Hot Dog in Charlotte’ awards, raised some national eyebrows recently when it made Fast Casual’s 2014 Top 100 Movers & Shakers list.  JJ’s, the smallest and youngest brand on the list, is the only Charlotte-based brand and the only Hot Dog/Sausage concept to make the list.

King of Pops has become an industry darling itself, known for its handcrafted popsicles made with seasonal, fresh, natural ingredients and a manufacturing process which is environmentally responsible. It has more than a dozen carts in Atlanta and the Carolinas.

JJ's Red Pop [production facility - Charlotte, NC]

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Soul of Philadelphia

Mosaic on South Street, Philadelphia

I am from Buffalo, but I grew up in Philadelphia. I lived just across the river in a suburb called Cherry Hill - the ‘Swamps of Jersey’ - but spent a lot of time in the city. And what a city it is. Philadelphia gets a shitty rap, but it is a good town. That city has soul. And tough, gritty neighborhoods - University City, The Northeast, Manayunk and South Philly. Hardscrabble, blue collar, and cocksure.

In 1978, Rocky Balboa might as well have been Jesus, and I became an Eagle fan and a Flyer fan and a Sixer fan and a Phillies fan. I saw Ron Jaworski, Bill Bergey, Wilbert Montgomery, Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Pete Rose, Bobby Clark, Bernie Parent, Dave Schultz, Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Mo Cheeks play in their prime. All bona fide legends. Tough not to root for 'em. Sure, a few fans threw snowballs at Santa Claus. But that’s because the Eagles were losing. You got a problem with that!?

Summer day trips to 'the shore' slowly faded into nights spent sleeping underneath the boardwalk in Ocean City, Stone Harbor or Avalon. The lonely end to another unsuccessful evening with the ladies over by the tilt-a-whirl. We drank warm beer in the soft summer rain*. My buddy Steve Hale had a ’74 Buick Skylark hatchback that doubled as our motel room. We called it the Skylark Motel. Nothing builds character more than sleeping with another dude in a hatchback with blood red interior. Our lives became a damn Springsteen song. I even got my heart broken by a girl named Sandy. (Hardcore Springsteen fans will get this. See lyrics below)

And the fuel that kept us alive were cheesesteaks. They were cheap, decadent and plentiful. For hungover 18 year olds, they could be life changing. Everyone had their favorite places. Voltaco’s in OC, Jim’s on South Street, and Big John’s (the inspiration for our pickle bar) in Cherry Hill. But there were many, many more. I miss that accessibility. Can't get em anywhere else. Disturbingly, I hear people outside of Philadelphia describing cheesesteaks (such as they are) as a ‘Philly Cheese.' Please discontinue this practice immediately. There is no such thing.

But the sandwich that nobody in Philadelphia wants to talk about - lest it also be so profoundly bastardized - is the roast pork sandwich. Now. This. Is. A. Sandwich. All due respect, cheesesteak, you big beautiful beast, but this thing beats you like you were late on some payments to the Merlino family. 

Mountains of slow roasted pork is shaved and doused in its own jus, piled on a beautifully firm and chewy Amoroso roll and topped with sautéed broccoli rabe and sharp provolone. It is intoxicating. You don’t feel full after you neck a whole one from Tony Luke’s - you feel drunk.

So, in tribute to this sandwich, and because we dig on swine, we pay loving homage with June's Sausage of the Month:

THE ITALIAN STALLION - Italian Style Pork Sausage with Roasted Fennel and Toasted Pistachios topped with Sautéed Broccoli Rabe and Grated Sharp Provolone. This is being served with a nice little tomato and cucumber salad with fresh basil and red wine vinegar.

Please enjoy!

~ JL

*Copped directly from ‘Jungleland’, by Bruce Springsteen.

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe

3 bunches of broccoli rabe, washed and drained
2 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T olive oil


1. Blanch Broccoli Rabe in salted boiling water for 1 min. Immediately plunge into ice bath.
2. Drain well and reserve, squeezing out excess water
3. In a medium hot skillet, heat olive oil until shimmering
4. Chop broccoli rabe into 1” pieces and add to skillet with garlic and chili flakes
5. Sautee for 7-10 minutes until just wilted
6. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately

Makes about 2 quarts. 

Steve Hale in the Skylark Motel, Headed to the Jersey Shore, Summer of 1984

Hot Dog Cart at City Hall
Hot Dog Vendor at the steps of the Art Museum. 
Jim's on 4th and South.
A Stooge on South Street.
Who knows, this could be Sandy...

4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy)
Bruce Springsteen

Sandy, the fireworks are hailin' over Little Eden tonight
Forcin' a light into all those stony faces left stranded on this warm July
Down in the town, the Circuit's full of switchblade lovers, so fast, so shiny, so sharp
As the wizards play down on Pinball Way on the boardwalk way past dark
And the boys from the casino dance with their shirts open like Latin lovers on the shore
Chasin' all them silly New York virgins by the score

And Sandy, the aurora is rising behind us
This pier lights our carnival life forever
Oh, love me tonight, for I may never see you again
Hey, Sandy girl
My, my, baby

Now, the greasers, ah, they tramp the streets or get busted for sleeping on the beach all night
Them boys in their high heels, ah, Sandy, their skins are so white
And me, I just got tired of hangin' in them dusty arcades, bangin' them pleasure machines
Chasin' the factory girls underneath the boardwalk where they all promise to unsnap their jeans
And you know that tilt-a-whirl down on the south beach drag
I got on it last night and my shirt got caught
And they kept me spinning, babe, didn't think I'd ever get off

Oh, Sandy, the aurora is rising behind us
This pier lights our carnival life on the water
Runnin', laughin' 'neath the boardwalk, ah, with the boss's daughter
I remember, Sandy, girl
Na, na, na, na, na, baby

Sandy, that waitress I was seeing lost her desire for me
I spoke with her last night, she said she won't set herself on fire for me anymore
She worked that joint under the boardwalk, she was always the girl you saw boppin' down the beach with the radio
The kids say last night she was dressed like a star in one of them cheap little seaside bars, and I saw her parked with lover boy out on the Kokomo
Did you hear the cops finally busted Madame Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do
For me this boardwalk life is through, babe
You ought to quit this scene too

Sandy, the aurora is rising behind us
This pier lights our carnival life forever
Oh, love me tonight and I promise I'll love you forever
Oh, I mean it, Sandy, girl
My, my, my, my, my baby
Yeah, I promise, Sandy, girl
Sha, la, la, la, la, baby

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

JJ's Awarded Top 100 Movers & Shakers by Fast Casual

[official press release]

JJ’s Red Hots Honored by Fast Casual as One of 2014’s Top 100 Movers & Shakers

Charlotte’s Hot Dog Restaurant Named #43 in List of Top 50 Restaurants in Fast Casual’s Prestigious Annual List

                  CHARLOTTE, May 21, 2014 – JJ’s Red Hots is officially moving and shaking.
                  The Charlotte-based upscale hot dog brand was honored Sunday night by Fast Casual as one of the year’s Top 50 restaurants, finishing #43 in the publication’s 2014 Top 100 Movers & Shakers list.
With restaurants in Ballantyne & Dilworth, JJ’s Red Hots was the smallest brand on the list for number of units, the only Charlotte-based brand and the only Hot Dog/Sausage concept to make the list. But that’s just fine with owner and founder Jonathan Luther, who accepted the award at the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago with JJ’s director of marketing and brand development Brandy Newton.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Luther. “We feel like we have a world-class brand that is ready for the right growth. And we will strive to deliver on the quality, service, value brand promise upon which we were founded.”
Newton, who oversees all promotional activities for the brand, maintains an impressive following on behalf of JJ’s on Twitter (1500+), Facebook (3100+) and Instagram (1000+), according to the Fast Casual special report.
“Our two-word mission statement is ‘Create Joy’ and that is exactly what we’re doing with the brand,” said Newton. “From Frank the Tank (JJ’s ubiquitous hot dog cart) to our kick-ass hot dogs, we are having fun and making people happy.”

According to Cherryh Butler, senior editor of, this year’s honorees were selected from nearly 900 nominations and evaluated by industry experts: “We applied multiple criteria against the nominees, including innovation, unit and revenue growth, use of technology and social media, branding and marketing and overall contribution to the industry.”  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Baseball, Hot Dogs and Beer.

We love baseball, but in a perfect world, there would be thirty regular season baseball games. And a one-game World Series. Baseball is important, but good grief, It's long winded. It is a slogging marathon of boredom. Lots of grown men literally standing around. But it has come to Uptown Charlotte in a huge way, and it is a hell of a lot of fun to go to a Charlotte Knights games, because thankfully, at BB&T Park, there is excellent beer and premium Sahlen's hot dogs to pass the time. 

As you may or may not know, the hot dog we serve in our restaurants is the official hot dog of the Charlotte Knights. Based out of Buffalo, NY, Sahlen's Packing Company has been making delicious hot dogs and sausages for over 140 years. And thanks to Chris Cauley and the entire Sahlen's team, we had the opportunity to take over the Third Base Party Deck and invite 40 of our closest friends and fans of JJ's Red Hots. We had a party and a baseball game broke out!

Thanks to Sahlen's and all who competed and won our first Charlotte Knights Giveaway!

(Winning responses listed below)

now that's a ball field 

Incredible views of #CLT

The Knight Sky 

Cop: Excuse me sir, can I ask why you were going 100 mph in a 45?
Me: I was going to JJ's Red Hots
*cop hi-fives me and gives me his car
-Darrell Jones

Pickled pearl onions, pickled pearl onions, pickled pearl onions, pickled carrots.
-April Vahey

The sweet @Buffalo4676 is deserving of these tickets! #ThankATeacher She MAY even change her name to JJ
-@JDubCLT (Jeff D) 

Thanks for the "packing my life in boxes" fuel, @JJsRedHots!

Going old school for @KnightsBaseball contest #gotnothingbutloveforyouJJ…

Too easy. I'll do it in less than 140 characters AND in a Haiku:
Need a big sausage
Get your mind out of the gutter
I want JJ's NOW

-Chris Richardson

Date night of choice for us is ALWAYS JJ's. Nothing more romantic than a dog and beer. 
-Cassiday Proctor

I love JJRH so much that I will have literally eaten it for every meal of the day. 
-Michael Brennan

A hot dog haiku:
Dogs and beer for me
Must go for Dog of the Week
JJ's is the best
-Chris Keener

When we're back in CLT, we visit JJ's Red Hots...
-Heather West

The Hog Thai'd drew me in and I've been a LOYAL customer ever since @JJsRedHots you complete me.
-Erin Potter

I would literally fall over dead if I stopped eating JJ's. End. Of. Story.
-Michael Hernandez

Had my first Weiner the Pooh last night, I died and went to heaven.
-Jim Davies I look forward to the new specials. Nothing like getting new meat at JJ's!!! -Na'Shota Lytle