BAM!DOG offers a righteous eatery in Reno
Stephen King and wife, Joanne had long pondered getting into the food industry in northern Nevada.
The couple, originally from New York state, was interested in starting or buying into a New York-style deli or bagel shop.
They consulted with Rod Jorgenson of the Nevada Small Business Development Center on various options and decided the concept ultimately wasn’t for them.
But they still had the itch to open a restaurant somewhere in the Truckee Meadows, but it took a stroke of inspiration from their 7-year-old daughter to get it rolling. One day, when her parents playfully asked her what kind of restaurant they should open, the youngster replied: “A hot dog restaurant!”
At first, the concept seemed a little crazy, but after some thought the couple decided it wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
They called the new restaurant BAM!DOG Righteous Hot Dogs. Their daughter also is credited with coming up with the name derived from a phrase on one of her favorite television shows, Liv and Maddie on the Disney Channel.
“It’s a show about two girls and there’s a scene where one of the girls gets excited and goes BAM!, and her mom replies, ‘What?’ and the girl replies ‘BAM What?, I like that.” Joanne said. “My daughter really liked that and she and her friends were saying that all the time. One day we were driving home from work and were talking about hot dogs and mentioned BAM What?’ and my daughter goes BAM!Dogs!.”
Joanne came home and asked her husband if he liked the name and enthusiastically replied, “That is a righteous name!”
They found a 1,000-square-foot space in the Smithridge Center on the corner of South Virginia Street and North McCarran Blvd.
The couple felt the shopping center was appealing because of its heavy traffic and that it wasn’t saturated with fast food restaurants. They also loved the fact the space is also next to Toys“R” Us.
“When we got hot on the idea, we were looking for a space that was restaurant-ready,” Stephen said. “We thought this was an ideal spot because it was the busiest corner in town.”
The menu offers 15 hot dog and sausage recipe combinations with names like Chi-Town Pride, The Italian Stallion, The Wisconsin Cheesehead and The Little City Roller. The restaurant also provides other culinary choices such as fresh corn on the cob and chicken wings, along with a mix of local and national brews on tap. Ingredients come from as many local food producers as possible.
“We wanted to keep it local and Reno-centric; to have a place Reno could be proud of,” Joanne said. “Even when we wanted to start the New York-style deli we wanted a local northern Nevada feel. Reno is our home, and we wanted to support the community.”
The spaced previously housed two Asian-style restaurants and needed some tenant improvements prior to opening.
For one thing, the previous tenant didn’t serve soda, so a new dispensing machine had to be installed along with other improvements such as new flooring and signage. Tenant improvements started in the spring and were handled by Loyd-Thomas Construction of Fallon.
Joanne said BAM!DOG initially had planned to open on July 5, but it had to pushed back to July 15 to finish the remodel.
She said they started the hiring process a little too soon and the slight delay caused them to lose a couple of new hires that needed to find other jobs right away.
“That one thing we learned is that you don’t start the hiring until you know for sure when you’re going to open,” Joanne said.
Still, the couple is pleased with the caliber of staff they’ve assembled. BAM!DOG employs eight, including three full time, and is looking to hire a couple more part-time positions.
They are taking a cautious approach at least at the outset, but are hopeful to be able to open a couple more BAM!DOG locations around in the region. Early indications have been positive so far.
“The numbers were good to start with and they seem to be getting better,” Stephen said. “We forecasted some numbers to be profitable in year one. They’re conservative numbers, but we’re hitting them out of the gates.”
BAM!DOG is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, go online to http://www.bamdoghotdogs.com.
Per the agreement, Caesars will continue to operate Harrah’s for the first half of 2020 before it’s redeveloped into a non-gaming hotel and mixed-use development.