Two franchisees of the popular New Orleans hot dog restaurant Dat Dog have signed a lease at Arlington Marketplace near LSU for the eatery's first Baton Rouge location.
David Halpern and nephew Teva Sempel, both New Orleans attorneys, are hoping to open the location in time for the LSU football season if construction timelines work out. The developers of the shopping center — which will be anchored by a new Rouses Supermarket — are on track to hand over the 3,000-square-foot endcap to the Dat Dog partners in late May or early June, Sempel said. The location is near the corner of Burbank and Lee drives.
“We looked at probably 25 sites,” said Halpern, who also has invested in Ruth’s Chris steakhouses and Smoothie King stores. “Of all of them, I think this is the best because of its proximity to a lot of housing, its reasonable proximity to LSU and all the energy that’s going to come to that new development.”
In the future, Sempel and Halpern hope to have a Dat Dog food truck open for tailgates, catering and other events.
Dat Dog, which opened on Freret Street in New Orleans in 2011 and has since expanded to locations on Magazine Street, Frenchmen Street and in Lafayette, is in the midst of an expansion plan, with several franchise locations planned.
Bill DiPaola, president and chief operating officer for Dat Dog, said the Baton Rouge restaurant is one of three franchise locations that are planned for this year. Two other franchised locations are set to open in Texas: College Station and Houston.
DiPaola added Constantine Georges, the founder of Dat Dog, has been eyeing the Baton Rouge market for a long time. Georges is the brother of Advocate owner John Georges.
The eatery offers a variety of specialty hot dogs and sausages. The menu for the Baton Rouge location will be mostly the same as the New Orleans restaurants, but there may be some tweaks to add Baton Rouge-specific items. It will include a 700-square-foot patio.
“We want to make this Baton Rouge’s and LSU’s Dat Dog,” Sempel said.
Plans for the Baton Rouge location initially called for a late 2017 opening, but Sempel said it took longer than expected to find a location that fit Dat Dog’s culture and his and Halpern’s vision.
“We wanted to be connected to the college,” Sempel said. “We decided we weren’t going to go on campus because it’s hard for people who aren’t on campus to get there. That’s why we were so excited about Arlington.”
The partners also have considered locations on Government Street in Mid City, Sempel said, but were unsure whether to open amid the ongoing road construction from the street’s road diet. They also considered Perkins Rowe, which recently announced expansion plans, and the Perkins Road Overpass area.
Dat Dog announced plans for the Baton Rouge locations last spring, shortly after DiPaola said he would like to see “40 to 50” locations open across the Gulf South in the next five years.
The 125,000-square-foot Arlington Marketplace development also will feature Atomic Burger, a Metairie-based restaurant, Jabby’s Pizza and several other retail and restaurant tenants.