Hot Dog Stand Becomes Local IconApril 29th, 2009
Amidst tough times, J Dawgs in Provo is a testament to the American Dream
by Jacob Hodgen
Situated on a busy corner on the Southeast edge of Brigham Young University in Provo is a peculiar Utah phenomenon. Here sits a small, ketchup-colored shack that looks like an ordinary fast food joint, except for one unusual element--this place is slammed.
J Dawgs in Provo has seen astonishing success in it first few years of business and now draws daily crowds from around the valley. Its menu is simple and efficient: you can get a polish hot dog or a beef dog and a drink.
I sat down with Jayson Edwards, the founder of J Dawgs, to ask him about his near legendary status in the community. A BYU graduate, he is only in his late twenties. I ask him if the rumors are true that he pulls in a six figure income from his little hot dog shack (yes, you read that correctly). He smiles and shrugs, "We do pretty well."
But doing "pretty well" is a major understatement, and Jayson's success is tribute to the American Dream. "I was an Asian Studies major," he says, "but I took a class called 'Basic Entrepreneurial Skills' for non-business majors. I become accustomed to hot dog shacks when I served my LDS mission in Toronto Canada. I thought I would give it a try." Jayson entrepreneurial skills paid off almost immediately. He made back his $1,000 investment on the hot dog shack in matter of weeks and soon afterwards was awarded a $30,000 prize from the BYU Business School. He now has expanded his company to catering events across the state and is looking into marketing his special hot dog sauce in restaurants and grocery stores.
"We don't advertise at all; it's all word of mouth. The product sells itself."
Jayson claims his fantastic success is due to two things: his proximity to BYU campus, which helped fuel Provo's hunger for hot dogs, and the superior quality of his products. "We bake all of our buns fresh, and we use bigger and higher quality dogs than our competitors." His spicy, sweet special sauce doesn't hurt either. He says it comes from a secret recipe his grandmother taught him. "My Mom would always make it for barbecues. One Christmas they were simmering some Little Smokies in crock pot in it and I just thought it would be good on a hot dog." Unfortunately Jayson's grandmother lives in Portland and has not yet been able to come out and see her sauce in action. But he says that, "We get her a pretty sweet Christmas present every year as royalties."
Also, though this might not seem like a big deal for non-BYU attendees, J Dawgs is conveniently located three feet off the property line from campus. This makes it the nearest supplier for two of Provo's favorite vices, which the iron-fisted BYU Student Association is rumored to have sworn a blood oath to never allow in the food court. Prepare to be scandalized: J Dawgs serves both Apple Beer and Mountain Dew.
Yes, the caffeine flows freely in this oasis of afternoon indulgence, but Jayson says he hasn't had any complaints so far. He originally wanted to call his business "Wanna-Weiner" but decided against it. "My mother was appalled," he claims. "So we went with J Dawgs instead."
I ask him what a typical busy day is for J Dawgs. "Mass chaos," he says smiling. "The line will be all the way wrapped around the corner--sixty or seventy feet long. It will be massive amounts of people for about 10 hours."
Word of J Dawgs and the special sauce has spread throughout the valley, and it has drawn it share of celebrity clientele, including Rocky Anderson, Bronco Mendenhall, LaVell Edwards, John Heder, and numerous LDS General Authorities.
Check them out at 880 North 700 East in Provo
Or visit their website