Mason Wright was 9 years old walking through Times Square in 2015 with his older sister when he noticed long lines wrapped around several hot dog carts. If he could reinvent the idea back home in the South, he said, he’d never have to beg his parents for an allowance again.
Mason’s vision has transformed from carts to a 200-square-foot corner restaurant serving over 400 customized hot dogs and vegan dogs with fresh toppings each day. Take the Firestorm, for example; a chopped chicken dog with buffalo sauce, or the Professor Dilly, which is served inside a jumbo-sized pickle. PETA recognized Mason’s vegan dogs as some of the best in the country.
“I’m usually doing most of the work but we’re having fun doing it,” Mason said. “My customers are really friendly and nice. The reviews online are great but the hardest part of running the business is being patient and waiting for customers to stop by. When they do, I get a really big smile on my face.”
Mason and another full-time employee prepare the food and manage the kitchen during regular business hours. His sister, mother and aunt help operate the point-of-sale system and hand out orders to the customers. “Business has been great because the community has come out, shown how supportive they are, buying multiple hot dogs at a time and being really patient with us as we operate the restaurant,” Mason said.
Mason arrives at the restaurant around 7 a.m., homeschools for three hours via Zoom, spends one hour setting up the kitchen before doors open at 11 a.m., and keeps up the routine Tuesday through Saturday until the restaurant closes at 6 p.m.