The Get to Know segment has featured some of my favorite places and this one is no exception. King David Dogs is one of my favorites in Indy. You can find a hot dog anywhere, but once you have one of their dogs, you will never go back to the over processed hot dogs that you used to know. The hot dog is awesome and they offer a ton of toppings that will keep you coming back. So we “sat down” with the owner of KDD, Brent Joseph to talk about everything hot dogs…
You can find King David Dogs:
Indianapolis International Airport.
15 N Pennsylvania St
Indianapolis, IN 46204-3101
King David Dogs Website
WIBIA: Tell me about the name King David?
Brent: The King David brand was created by my grandfather William and his brother Paul when they owned the Hene Meat Co. They created the King David brand as a private label for some of their product. They did beef summer sausage, beef bologna, corned beef, pastrami, liverwurst, and of course hot dogs.
WIBIA: What makes the hot dog so good?
Brent: First off, it’s an all beef dog. That makes a BIG difference. Second, it’s a skinless ¼ lb. dog. Even though it’s skinless, it still has a snap to it when you bite it, similar to a dog with a casing. It has that snap to it because there is a lot less fat and therefore moisture in the dog. King David Dogs also have a very unique flavor profile. You can taste the difference. With most hot dogs out there, people dress them up and top them with all sorts of condiments to mask the taste of the dog. A lot of times the actual dog is just a vessel for condiments. Some of the other dogs out there are just downright scary, brown colored meat sticks made with miscellaneous chicken and/or pork parts. Not the good parts either. Our dogs are 100% Kosher-style, all beef franks. The flavor of a King David Dog is very unique and stands up on its own without any condiments.
As far as the bun, we get them from Gonnella. They are in Chicago and they come in fresh every day. Our delivery driver is in his truck by 3:30am every day. We steam them and they are amazing. I think they make the best hot dog bun around. Believe me, I’ve tried plenty of them.
WIBIA: Last year you expanded to your second store at the airport, any other plans for expansion of retail stores or selling your dogs to larger chain grocery stores?
Brent: Yes, we are currently in talks about expansion for another location here in town. That’s all I can say about that at the moment. As far as selling the product to larger chain grocery stores, I’d love to. We had some meetings in the spring with a large chain, and we are continuing those discussions. Hopefully, if customers keep asking for our product, that will help get us in these stores!
WIBIA: What keep customers coming back?
Brent: You know, I’m not sure I know exactly what it is. I know what I want it to be. I would like to think it’s the best hot dog that people have ever had. And at least once a day, a customer will tell me that it was the best dog they have ever had. One reasons people return again and again is price. Even though you can get a hot dog for much cheaper at a gas station, you get what you pay for. I think people are willing to pay for quality and this is a quality product. We don’t skip on any of the toppings or ingredients. I buy the highest quality items I can and we make a number of menu items from scratch every day. This is also one of the cheapest hot meals that you can get downtown. You can get a regular Build Your Own dog (includes 4 regular toppings), a side item (Fries, Tater Tots, Baked Beans, a bag of Zapp’s Potato Chips, Cole Slaw, or a whole pickle), and a fountain drink in a plastic take home cup with free refills for $6.52 after taxes! That’s pretty cheap for a huge lunch, and it works out to only about $1.00 or so more than one off a cart, and that hot dog has been sitting in scary hotdog water for the last four hours or so.
Another reason we have so many regular customers is that we are quick. Depending on the line, we can get usually get you in and out in only a few minutes if not less. Finally, I think that a lot of it has to do with service. I am really big on service. I tell my employees that you can go anywhere and get mediocre or bad service, but people remember good service and I think they really appreciate it. I know I do. That is something that I have keyed in on since the day we opened. I want people to feel welcome when they come to King David Dogs.
WIBIA: Indy needs a good sausage shop (keep it clean!). It seems like you have a jump start with arguably the best hot dog in town, have you ever thought about making Polish Kielbasa, German sausages, etc…
Brent: You know, I’m as big of a cured meat and sausage fan as anyone that you’ll find, but unfortunately this market (Indianapolis) doesn’t have a lot of demand for it. You would be surprised as to how few requests we get for brats or polish. Maybe once a month if not less. People in this town like to keep it simple. When I started this restaurant, the goal was to do one thing and do it better than anyone else. I like to think we have an advantage over any competition out there because we have a proprietary product in with the King David Hot Dog. Nobody else can get these dogs except through me, anybody can open a hot dog stand and serve Vienna or Hebrew National. In fact, people have tried, and haven’t had the success that we have been so lucky to enjoy. We will have been open three years in November. We are unique. We are a local company with a product that was created by a local family. The King David brand has local roots and history. I think that people really connect with that and want to help support it. I am just trying to create something that this city can be proud of. If you go to New York or Chicago, you think of pizza, Philadelphia has cheese steaks, Kansas City and Memphis are known for BBQ. What are we known for? Corn? Some people will argue breaded tenderloins, but the truth is that outside of this state people don’t really know what the hell a breaded tenderloin sandwich is.
WIBIA: Your menu has a few suggested items, but with 30 toppings, you could get pretty crazy. If I choose the build your own dog, but instead you would build it for me, what would I be eating?
Brent: Probably a Boom Boom Dog (fried egg and cheddar cheese) but I’d add a little extra kick with some onions cooked right into the egg on the grill, some bacon, some salsa, and maybe some even jalapeños if you were up for it. Really it all depends on my mood. I am kicking around some new ideas so be on the lookout!
WIBIA: One of my favorite breakfast treats is diced hot dogs browned in a little butter and scramble some eggs with it, most people think it is gross. What other recipes do you like to make with your hot dogs?
Brent: I like to throw them in the fryer every once in a while. It sounds awful but it’s delicious. When I do that I usually don’t even bother with a bun. Just some Bertman’s mustard (a spicy brown mustard we get from Cleveland). I also like them chopped up and mixed with scrambled eggs. It’s almost like salami and eggs which is another favorite. I like to slice them up and wrap them up in crescent roll dough and throw them in the oven to make as appetizers when I have people over to the house. I also used to eat them with Kraft Mac & Cheese when I was little. That may also be because it was the only thing the babysitter could make well. We are experimenting with some new ideas, including a King David Dog on a waffle, with some homemade honey mustard.
WIBIA: Tell me what is new at KDD?
Brent: We just added some beer battered onion rings since we had so many requests for them. They seem to be going pretty well. We also added something called Funnel Cake Fries. It’s a dessert item. They are basically strips of Funnel Cake batter that look like fries. We fry them until they are hot and slightly crispy, sprinkle on some powdered sugar and you have fried deliciousness in a cup! They really are amazing.
WIBIA: I am always looking for good tips, where do you like to eat in Indy?
Brent: Basically anyplace with meat or sushi. One of my favorite places was h2o but I heard that Eli Anderson recently sold it and I haven’t been since the ownership change. I do really like Tegry Bistro for their sushi. If I had to choose only one kind of food to have the rest of my life it would totally be sushi. I just never get tired of it. Although my wife does so I never get to have it as much as I want to. I have also been addicted to Goose the Market lately. I have been strategically planning afternoon meetings on the north side so I can stop by the Goose and grab a Batali on my way to the meetings. Brugge is another favorite. The Duck Confit Mitrailette is amazing. The Capital Grill is on the list as well. They do the best steak tartare that I have ever had and I try it anywhere that has it listed on the menu. The only problem is that they took it off their menu but if you ask nicely, the chef will usually make it for you. I also think that the Balsamic glazed Delmonico is the best steak in the city. Finally the chorizo tacos at Pancho’s are a can’t miss when I want something south of the border. Add some fresh limes and cilantro and I am in heaven (and a cold Pacifico).
WIBIA: At WIBIA, we are big eaters. Have you ever thought about sponsoring a hot dog eating contest?
Brent: Yes. I’ve thought about it but am not really sure where to start. I thought it would’ve been a great Grand Opening event but we are a little past that. I’d love to explore the idea further, are you volunteering to organize it?
WIBIA: We might have to talk about that more!