COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST)–Rise Brands built its business on entertaining customers. Now it’s ready to feed them.
The Columbus-based company is ready to launch a new brand to join its Pins Mechanical Co. and 16-Bit Bar + Arcade. While those two were built on serving drinks and providing diversions like video games, duckpin bowling and pinball, Weenie Wonder is a quick-service restaurant.
The first is scheduled to open in October at Bridge Park in Dublin in a space between the Pins and 16-Bit operations. A second will come to Easton Town Center in the first quarter of 2021.
Just as Rise’s existing brands were built around nostalgia, so too is Weenie Wonder, founder Troy Allen said.
The menu of Koegel all-beef hot dogs sourced from Flint, Michigan, and jojos (fried potato wedges) from Northeast Ohio are reminders of his youth and the hope is the coney dogs and milkshakes stir similar happy associations for others.
Rise has been working on the idea for five years. Though not yet known for food, the company has operated a test kitchen for more than three years to incubate food ideas. The Bridge Park operation opened with space dedicated for a Weenie Wonder, though the concept was only teased at that time.
Allen said the plan was to open it last year but Covid-19 delayed that.
Though the first two locations will open alongside existing Rise properties, the plan is to open standalone locations around Central Ohio as well. Allen’s goal is six.
He said there’s interest in other markets where Rise concepts operate — particularly Indianapolis and Charlotte, North Carolina — but the immediate goal is to test the idea in Dublin and Easton and expand around Columbus.
The restaurant will be built by Ruscilli Construction and was designed by Design Collective.
Weenie Wonder will be open for lunch and into the night. The Dublin location will have its own entrance off the street, but also will connect to Pins and 16-Bit. The interior doors will open at 4 p.m. when those venues open.
The menu will have 10 signature hot dogs and a build-your-own option. The sides will be jojos, baked potatoes and salad. There will be milkshakes too.
“I think there’s a hole in the market for hot dogs,” Allen said.
He noted local favorite Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace of course, but beyond that he didn’t see much competition here or from other chains.
Allen also admitted that it’s nice to focus on an idea with a smaller footprint, about 2,500 square feet each, for a little while after several years of growing Pins, some of which are as big as 40,000 square feet.
As with Pins and 16-Bit, Allen said his aspiration is to grow the brand and eventually sell it. The process of devising new concepts is the aspect of this job Allen said he enjoys the most. In fact, he teased another new venture expected to launch next year.
In addition to Pins, 16-Bit and soon Weenie Wonder, Rise also has two No Soliciting private bars downtown and at Bridge Park. The downtown location added a kitchen this year.
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