A classic member of the downtown dining line-up has recently had new life breathed into it. Olde Tyme Delicious Hot Dogs, located on the northeast corner of West Montgomery Street and North Columbia Street, recently came under new ownership, and with a few cosmetic upgrades and a couple of additions to the menu, the place is already seeing an increase in clientele.
New owner Dawn Gaddis was excited for the opportunity to try her hand at running a restaurant. Gaddis grew up in the Middle Georgia area, and has spent 30 years working as a nurse, most recently in Jacksonville, Fla. When her daughter, Nicole Williams, owner of Family Cuts, told her about the opportunity to purchase the nostalgic hot dog restaurant that shares a building with her salon, Gaddis saw a golden opportunity to return to Milledgeville and be closer to family.
“I love to cook,” said Gaddis. “My daughter told me about the opportunity to be next door to her, and I jumped for it.”
Gaddis took over ownership on Feb. 1, and she and her partner, Mitch Melton, spent that weekend cleaning, painting and doing some light remodeling to get the shop open once again just a couple of days later. For Gaddis, it was important to strike a balance between putting her mark on the place and providing consistency for the loyal customer base.
“We did just a little bit of painting. We got new barstools, redid some of the signs, a little bit of remodeling back in the kitchen,” said Gaddis, who added that she and Melton were “just trying to give it a new feel.”
To provide the desired consistency, Gaddis kept many of the menu items from the previous ownership, and she was careful not to change the price structure patrons were accustomed to. Customers can still get a traditional hot dog combo with chips and a drink for $6.25, and specialty hot dog combos are $6.75.
One upgrade Gaddis was able to implement based on customer reviews on Google was to increase the size of the hot dogs themselves. Olde Tyme Delicious Hot Dogs serves Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, a product native to Coney Island in New York.
“The original Nathan’s from up north actually extends beyond the bun, so we were able to find those hot dogs that are bigger,” explained Gaddis. “We’ve got good feedback from the customers on them.”
Patrons can still enjoy staple menu items such as the slaw dog or the pool room dog, a hot dog with chili and onions, as well as trying more elaborate creations such as the Chicago dog, a hot dog with dill pickle spears, pepperoncini, celery salt, relish, tomatoes and onion.
More adventurous diners can try Olde Tyme’s newest offering, the wicked pimento dog, which features spicy pimento cheese with bacon bits and jalapeno peppers.
The pimento menu items are especially popular with the local college student clientele, a customer base Gaddis has worked hard to try to bring into her restaurant since taking over. Gaddis also stocks energy drinks at the store, and she uses social media to reach out to the college students, many of whom live in the neighborhoods directly surrounding the restaurant.
“With the Instagram page, we’ve been able to target a little bit more the college-aged students, and they’ve been so awesome,” said Gaddis. “They’re a great support to us.”
Gaddis and Melton have developed a new, updated logo for the restaurant, and they are currently working with some Georgia College students to get a brand-new website up and running for the business.
Gaddis has seen increases in other customer bases in addition to the college crowd. In the month since taking over, more and more people have been stopping by, some even coming from longer distances.
“We’ve had people just passing through that will stop in,” said Gaddis. “There’s one guy who’s been here the last two weekends in a row. He drives all the way in from Athens to get one of my chili dogs.”
Gaddis feels that a large part of the restaurant’s charm is due to its old diner feel. The barstool seating at the counter creates a nostalgic ambiance that results in a unique dining experience.
“You come in and sit down and you may not even know the person next to you, but you sit there, and you develop a conversation with them,” said Gaddis, who has seen new friendships form at her counter.
With plenty of success already under their belts, Gaddis and Melton are looking ahead to the future of Olde Tyme Delicious Hot Dogs. They plan to continue to invest in the property to improve its appearance both inside and out, while maintaining the quality of the food they serve.
“We want it to be a nice, fun place to come to,” added Gaddis.