Even before he co-founded Dat Dog, Skip Murray called himself “the hot dog guy” based on his experience running an all-American-themed hot dog business in London. Now, the New Orleans native is recasting himself as a hamburger guy.
Last summer, Murray opened a separate restaurant in Mid-City called Dis & Dat, serving burgers along with the same kind of lavishly dressed sausages and hot dogs that are Dat Dog’s calling card. But Murray has now sold his stake in Dat Dog to his co-founder Constantine Georges (the brother of John Georges, publisher of the Advocate).
That’s spurred changes at the new restaurant, which is now called Dis & Dem (2540 Banks St., 504-909-0458; disanddem.com). “Dat” references around the rambling little eatery have been blotted out or removed, and the hot dogs and sausage are gone, per an agreement between Murray and Dat Dog, Murray explained. Now, Dis & Dem is developing a new menu built around burgers and sliders. Breakfast is another focus. Colin Provensal, an early Dat Dog employee, runs his own separate morning menu of breakfast sandwiches, omelets and hash dishes at Dis & Dem Tuesday through Sunday, using the space in a restaurant-within-a-restaurant format.
The first Dat Dog opened inside a glorified shed on Freret Street in 2011, the same year that street bloomed into a restaurant row. The concept took off quickly, and the restaurant soon moved to a much larger location just across the street. Additional Dat Dogs followed, on Magazine Street in 2013 and Frenchmen Street last year. In March, Dat Dog opened a fourth location in the food court at Lakeside Mall.
“Dat Dog was the best thing I’ve ever done, and the best part was that it was so unexpected,” Murray said of Dat Dog’s success.
But as the company grew, Murray explained that he missed the excitement of building his own grassroots brand, leading to his burger spin-off and now his departure from Dat Dog. He plans to open more Dis & Dem locations and believes it can spread outside Louisiana. For now, though, he’s most interested in the potential close to home as the massive new hospital complexes take shape less than a block from his burger griddle.
“I’m proud to be in the vanguard here,” he said. “It’s coming along here and that was the same thing we saw happen on Freret Street.”
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.