Local man serves up franks with extra relish
Video by Alex Russell / fredericksburg.com
Ted Lambert carefully assembles the “Kramer,” a quarter-pound all-beef hot dog with hot cheddar cheese, bacon pieces, all-meat chili topped with homemade coleslaw.
He hands it over to a waiting customer at his cart in Bowling Green.
This Kramer, named for the character on the sitcom “Seinfeld,” is Lambert’s most popular menu item.
“We thought that our chili dog had a lot of personality and although just a little bit weird, most people find it almost impossible not to like, just like the Kramer character,” Lambert said.
He began selling gourmet hot dogs last month at a cart usually situated at the corner of Main Street and W. Broaddus Avenue in Bowling Green around lunchtime most days of the week.
Lambert calls his business Brett and Haden’s Swanky Franks, after his two kids.
The Kramer and three other gourmet dogs, along with nachos and the “naked” dog—a quarter-pound frank without the gourmet toppings—have attracted regulars and passers-by, keeping Lambert busy every day he’s been in business.
He says the concept works in a small, rural town like Bowling Green, because word travels fast.
Most of his customers have heard about his dogs by word-of-mouth.
On a typical day, he goes through about 50 or so franks, he says.
He already has quite a following. Many of his customers need not say a word when they approach his cart; he knows their orders by heart.
One thing that makes Lambert’s creations unique is his combination of flavors, which are original and, from all appearances, delicious.
His Deputy Dawg—named for Lambert’s wife, Capt. Angel Lambert with the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office—is piled with pulled pork and a sweet, smoky barbecue sauce.
“Everyone associates pork with cops,” said Lambert, who also works for the Caroline Sheriff’s Office.
The Hawaiian is as exotic as its name. It’s got bacon pieces and habanero pineapple salsa, for a blend of sweetness and heat.
The Cattle Rustler, a smoked sausage, is topped with grilled onions, peppers and mustard.
Even though he has been selling the concoctions for only a few weeks, these franks have a history.
Lambert said about five years ago, for his son’s first birthday, he wanted to entertain his guests with food a bit more exciting than the typical hot dogs and hamburgers.
Instead, he went over-the-top and created original recipes for the Swanky Franks, put together a menu and served them to his family and friends.
They were a hit.
“Over the years it just never died. They were wanting to try the Kramer,” he said.
Soon, they were asking for the gourmet treats at every family function.
It wasn’t until a year ago, after the loss of a close friend and the birth of his daughter within a week of each other that Lambert started putting a business plan together.
“Probably more than ever, I was aware of how fragile life is,” he said.
When he got serious about perfecting his recipes to sell to the public, it involved a little more research and a lot more taste-testing.
Lambert got together a group of about 10 friends and family members for a tasting. He then tweaked his creations until they met the approval of his tasters. “If I can get a consensus from the group, then I know our customers will like it,” he said.
Most days, Lambert sets up in the parking lot of a former bank that now sits vacant.
The owner lets him use the space in hopes that it will draw a possible tenant.
Lambert said he buys his ingredients from several vendors and focuses on serving a quality product.
He said he loves meeting his customers, reconnecting with folks he hasn’t seen in a while and seeing them enjoy a good hot dog.
“It was never about being the cheapest or making the most money,” he said.
To see a video, visit the Caroline Crossroads blog on fredericksburg.com.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413