Hot Dog Pete’s and Hero Doughnuts join an array of independently-owned restaurants and chefs taking their pop-ups permanent in Summerhill east of Georgia State Stadium, Atlanta Business Chronicle reports. Joined by a shared patio, Pete’s hopes to open by late summer, while Hero aims to open in mid-November on the neighborhood’s main drag, Georgia Avenue.
Fans of Jim N’ Nick’s Bar-B-Q are likely familiar with the name behind Hot Dog Pete’s: Nick Pihakis. Pihakis, who hails from Alabama, owns several Jim N’ Nick’s throughout metro Atlanta. Jeremy and Tammy Chambers, who run the Atlanta restaurants for Pihakis, will operate the hot dog shop alongside another Alabama-based business, Hero Doughnuts, owned by Wil Drake and his partner Paul Yeck.
For Drake, who grew up in Fayette County, Georgia, opening his doughnut shop in Atlanta is a homecoming. He moved to Birmingham in 2001 to attend school and began working in restaurants to pay the rent. Drake started making doughnuts with Jason Wallis, his business partner at the time, on the side, selling them at pop-ups around town.
“My original partner, Jason, and I gained a following over the course of two or three years,” Drake says. “We thought about opening a shop. Nick and Paul helped us get that going.” Hero marks its two-year anniversary later this year in Homewood — a bedroom community just south of Birmingham.
The Summerhill shop, which includes a few seats indoors and on the patio it shares with Pete’s next door, carries 12 doughnut flavors, four of which are menu staples: the Boston Cream, vanilla glazed, chocolate glazed, and pistachio glazed. Jam-filled doughnuts change with the seasons. Hero also offers cake doughnuts, doughnut holes, apple fritters, and cinnamon rolls. Custards, jams, glazes, and other fillings are all made fresh.
Most of Hero’s doughnuts use a brioche dough. Drake says it gives them a “rich and super soft” texture. That dough also creates the buns for the shop’s bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich, hamburgers, fried bologna, and the fried chicken sandwich, called the “super crunch”. Pete’s will also use the bun for its hot dogs.
As for Hero’s name, Drake landed on it simply because it continued to stick out amongst the long list of potentials.
“We honor all heroes: service members, public servants. We do a lot within the community. And, people are always happy when they get a box of doughnuts at their school or the office,” he says. “They get to be the hero. Everyone needs a hero. We even have a big neon sign in our shop that says that.”
Between the two restaurants, there’s seating indoors and outside for up to 50 people. Due to its small size, most of Pete’s seating is located on the all-weather patio.
Pihakis named the restaurant for his other partner in the business, Pete Graphos. Graphos founded Sneaky Pete’s Hotdogs in 1966 (now an Alabama chain,) sparking a hot dog restaurant boon across Birmingham. The Atlanta shop pays homage to Sneaky Pete’s 50-year hot dog legacy in the state and includes an original “secret sauce” created by Graphos.
Pete’s hot dogs are cooked over charcoal behind the shop’s front counter. Dogs are then dressed to order from a variety of toppings. Eight specialty hot dogs are listed on the menu, along with sides like onion rings and cole slaw and drinks, including milkshakes and a handful of local beers.
“We looked at a lot of places around Atlanta before landing on Summerhill. It was our last stop on the tour,” Yeck explains of the decision to open along Georgia Avenue. “It’s hard not to be drawn into this community — all the old storefronts in the shadow of what was Turner Field [former home of Atlanta Braves baseball]. There’s such a diverse mix of restaurants opening here. We just wanted to be a part of it.”
Hero Doughnuts and Hot Dog Pete’s join Redacted bar, Junior’s Pizza, Little Bear, Halfway Crooks Brewing, D Boca N Boca, Woods Chapel BBQ, Big Softie, Hodgepodge Coffeehouse, and Little Tart Bakeshop on Georgia Avenue. Chefs Parnass Lim Savang and Rod Lassiter should open Talat Market on the edge of Summerhill later this summer.
Hot Dog Pete’s, 25 Georgia Avenue; Hero Doughnuts, 33 Georgia Avenue, Atlanta.
- All Summerhill coverage [EATL]