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August 28, 2015

Dave's Famous T&L Hot Dogs: Locations, menu have expanded over the years

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Posted: Saturday, May 4, 2013 9:57 pm

CLARKSBURG — Dave and Mike Henderson started out in the restaurant business with a hot dog stand on Main Street in Bridgeport in 1984.

Now, their family owns multiple Dave’s Famous T&L Hot Dogs locations throughout North Central West Virginia.

“Bridgeport is the original,” owner Dave Henderson said.

As new locations gradually opened, more menu items were added, according to the younger owner, Mike Henderson.

“It originally started out as T&L Hot Dogs,” he said. “It was a hot dog stand. It was literally a one-room carryout operation with canned soda, hot dogs and potato chips.”

The Hendersons currently have T&L Hot Dogs locations on Main Street in Bridgeport, at Meadowbrook Mall, in Clarksburg’s Rosebud Plaza, in Pruntytown, on old Bridgeport Hill and in White Hall, according to Mike Henderson.

“The first major expansion happened in 1989 when we brought in the fresh-cut french fries,” he said.

The Rosebud Plaza location opened in 1995.

Around that same time, the Hendersons expanded the menu and established the nostalgic diner concept the various locations currently feature.

As part of the 1950s theme, the Hendersons host car cruises for classic car enthusiasts at the Rosebud Plaza location.

“We’re known now for more than just good hot dogs,” Mike Henderson said.

Several customers have switched their regular order from a hot dog to a black angus burger, according to Henderson.

“The hot dogs are awesome, but the hamburger is to die for,” Mike Henderson said.

The West Virginia burger, featuring chili, slaw, mustard and onions, is an especially popular new item.

Grilled chicken wraps and steak wraps were the latest addition to the menu.

The business also expanded to include a line of hot dog chili.

Dave’s Famous T&L Hot Dog’s Chili Sauce is sold in about 35 grocery stores throughout West Virginia, according to Mike Henderson.

“We’ve been selling our hot dog sauce in our restaurants for years,” he said. “It has kind of grown from one lady saying, ‘Will you sell me some sauce for a picnic I’m having this weekend,’ to everyone who’s walking in our stores for the Fourth of July weekend is buying our sauce.”

The Hendersons began approaching grocery stores in 2010.

“We finally made the decision that maybe there’s something to this and maybe we need to get our sauce into the grocery world,” Mike Henderson said.

Various concession stands also use the hot dog sauce.

All the expansion wouldn’t have been possible without a team effort from family members, according to Mike Henderson.

“All of the family have been involved in the business since day one,” he said. “I’ve got girls in college. In the summer, where are they at? They’re making hot dogs.”

His brother, Scott, cooks the hot dog sauce, and his sister-in-law, Joyce, manages the Bridgeport location.

Beverly Henderson, Mike’s wife, and Barbara Henderson, Dave’s wife, do office work for the company.

“All the extended family at one time or another have worked for the business,” Mike Henderson said. “When you’ve got all the stores that we have, it takes the whole family to keep things going. It’s a seven-day-a-week operation.”

Loyal customers and employees also have been essential, according to Mike Henderson.

“The secret to our success is good employees — employees who have been in the business a long time and treat the business as if it were their own,” he said.

Staff writer Erin Beck can be reached at (304)626-1439 or by email at ebeck@exponent-telegram.com