published Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Anatomy of one of Chattanooga’s favorite hot dogs

Griffin’s Foot Long Hotdogs is at the corner of Central Avenue and Main Street. Staff File Photo.
Griffin’s Foot Long Hotdogs is at the corner of Central Avenue and Main Street. Staff File Photo.
  • photo
    Josh Hyde prepares a Miss Griffin hot dog, with mustard, hot sauce, diced onions and relish made from a 72-year-old recipe.
    Staff Photo by Clint Cooper/Chattanooga Times Free Press

You can get it with jalapeños or kraut, if you like, but that wasn’t the way Miss Griffin served it.

The original hot dog sold at Griffin’s Foot Long Hotdogs is still served the same way 72 years after the small restaurant at the corner of Central Avenue and Main Street was established.

“She wouldn’t give you anything else,” Josh Hyde, brother of owner Tom Hyde, said he’d heard about namesake Willie Mae Griffin Hawkins. “No slaw. No chili. She was a nice lady but firm, I heard.”

Manager Andrew Minnick said the restaurant serves 120 to 200 hot dogs or Polish sausages a day, the sales peaking on Friday.

Of those, sales of the Miss Griffin and the All the Way are about even, he said.

The Miss Griffin, the original ($3.30), starts with a steamed bun placed on a sheet of wax paper and is stuffed with a steamed hickory-smoke-flavor hot dog, according to Josh Hyde.

The hot dogs themselves, he understood, are made from an original-to-Chattanooga recipe that was sold to an Atlanta firm some years ago.

Mustard is added in a zigzag design, then a dash of hot sauce.

The hot sauce, Hyde said, is fairly mild and is almost more of a vinegar flavoring.

Diced onions are added next, then finally a generous portion of relish made from Miss Griffin’s 72-year-old recipe.

The relish, he said, is made at home and is cabbage- and onion-based.

“It’s really more like chow-chow,” Hyde said. “I consider it a mustard relish.

“People 70 or older [who remember the all-or-nothing originals] still come in to get one,” he said.

Today, Hyde said, customers can have it their way with any of the aforementioned toppings as well as chili, slaw, cheese, jalapeños or kraut.

“The Griffin’s the original,” he said, “but [the selection’s] changed like the spice of variety.”

Hyde said his father, Eldon Hyde, has worked at Griffin’s Foot Long Hotdogs — officially at 1449 Cemetery Ave. — on and off for more than 15 years. About four years ago, the elder Hyde heard the restaurant was for sale. Now his son has owned it for three and a half years.

Josh Hyde said he has worked in the food and beverage business for 15 to 16 years, including stints at Yellowstone National Park and in Vail, Colo. When he’s not at Griffin’s, he works at a local pizza restaurant.

“Chattanooga is becoming more of a hot-dog town,” he said. “It’s affordable, quick and easy. Who doesn’t like a good, all-American hot dog?”

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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dave said...

Miss Griffin was a Chattanooga Icon. She would offer you a great hot dog and a little gospel preachin'. Young or old, black or white you were always welcome. A truly great lady and a great business. I am glad it has survived.

June 23, 2011 at 9:38 a.m.
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