WARDELL, VA – APRIL 29, 2022 – When it comes to hot dogs, the Route 19 Hot Dog Shop not only has all-beef hot dogs, but the homemade slaw and chili to go with them. Sweet tangy pulled pork BBQ and fresh cut fries are two other specialties on the menu which also features grilled cheese sandwiches and more.
Owner Jeff Tatum noted both dine-in and drive-thru service is available at the restaurant which is located on Rt. 19 between Claypool Hill, Va. and Lebanon, Va. in the Steelsburg Plaza.
Tatum’s new business, LECOWATIPA LLC, doing business as the Route 19 Hot Dog Shop, was recently approved for a $10,000 VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund grant.
“The Route 19 Hot Dog Shop is another example that entrepreneurship is alive and well in Southwest Virginia’s e-Region,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “Through the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Grant program, we strive to create a mechanism to assist entrepreneurs, like Jeff Tatum, in realizing their dreams of owning and operating a small business, while at the same time, creating jobs in the community. The Route 19 Hot Dog Shop is projected to create six full-time and 10 part-time jobs within three years.”
The restaurant’s prime location, not far from Southwest Virginia Community College, gives it a ready customer base which it capitalizes on by offering a 10 percent discount to students.
“We will celebrate our one-year anniversary on Sunday, May 1,” Tatum said, noting he decided to open the hot dog shop focusing on his desire to own and operate his own business and combining that with his love of hot dogs. “After the old King Kone closed in Richlands, I felt like the area was missing something in terms of a good old-fashioned hot dog.”
Tatum noted in opening the restaurant, he hoped to fill that void. As he started the restaurant, the idea, he said, was to keep the menu simple. The fresh cut fries on the menu are a huge draw, he said, noting the restaurant goes through 15 gallons of potatoes a day. A polish sausage hot dog with grilled onions, peppers and mustard was added to the menu this spring and Tatum said new items are added periodically on a trial basis to see what sells before decisions are made to keep them on the menu.
Seating is available for up to 52 inside and the full-service drive-thru with call-ahead service is another option customers have. Delivery is also offered to local businesses and in the future, Tatum is eyeing offering catering services or expanding to food truck options and by the third year, hopes to open a second location. Sandy Tatum is the business manager for the shop.
The iconic Route 19 car out front serves as a draw and a photo opp for many.
“The VCEDA grant really helped us, especially with the increase in minimum wage,” Tatum said. “We have used some for working capital and have plans to use some for a new flooring project. As a new business starting up, there are so many expenses and this first winter was brutal. It was difficult, but the funds have helped us get through the winter months. We learned a lot through the winter and will approach things with a different game plan for this coming winter as we now have the data to use for planning.”
In the meantime, spring is now here and summer is on the horizon with community events like a Cruise-In being planned as the word continues to get out about the new business and what it offers.
Tatum worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) in developing his application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority.
“The Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College was pleased to assist LECOWATIPA LLC, dba as Route 19 Hot Dog Shop with applying for the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund Grant,” said SBDC Program Manager Margie Douglass. “The restaurant has become a frequented spot for many locals and also continues to draw many tourists as the restaurant’s notoriety continues to spread. This unique dining experience is a great addition to the area and the SBDC looks forward to continuing to assist the business with expanding its facilities, services and employment opportunities with the help of the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund grant.”
The business, located at 2703 Steelsburg Hwy. (Rt. 19), is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. As the summer months arrive, closing time will be extended to 9 p.m. The business may be found on Facebook and may be reached by calling 276-345-9470.
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.
About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.