dat dog sign.jpg copy for Red

Colorful decor is a hallmark of Dat Dog's locations. The company is planning locations in Baton Rouge.

ADVOCATE STAFF FILE PHOTO BY IAN MCNULTY

Dat Dog, the popular New Orleans chain that specializes in gourmet hot dogs and sausages, is slated to open three franchise locations in the Baton Rouge area beginning in late 2017.

The three Baton Rouge locations will open under Dat Dog's first wave of franchisees — David Halpern and Teva Sempel, the company said. Their franchisee group is Prime Dog LLC.

The two men have strong ties to New Orleans, where Dat Dog is headquartered. Halpern is a partner at Kean Miller LLP in New Orleans and regularly represents regional and national restaurants, bars, franchises and clubs in land use, licensing and general business transactions. Sempel is Halpern's nephew and practices law at Schonekas, Evans, McGoey and McEachin LLC in New Orleans.

Exact locations for the new restaurants are still being finalized, the company said. But Bill DiPaola, president and chief operating officer of Dat Dog Enterprises, said Friday that at least one will be in Baton Rouge proper, while the other two locations may be destined for the suburbs.

"It's about getting to where not only the young people that come to our business frequently live, but also where the young families who frequent our business live," DiPaola said. "The only rush we are in is to do it right. That's the most important thing. I'd rather take the time and do it right."

Earlier this year, DiPaola said he'd like see “about 40 to 50” restaurants open in the next five years throughout the Gulf Coast. In fact, DiPaola said Friday that the company is nearing deals to expand into Texas and South Carolina.

Dat Dog opened on Freret Street in New Orleans in 2011 and has locations on Magazine Street, Frenchmen Street and Lakeside Mall in Metairie.

Dat Dog's founder and CEO, Constantine Georges, is the brother of John Georges, who owns The Advocate.

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.