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Hot Dog Shoppe looks to expand

WARREN — The new owners of the Hog Dog Shoppe restaurants want to expand the beloved brand into Mahoning County, the groundwork for which has already been laid with the addition of two key casual dining personnel.

Girard native Greg Kenyon was brought on as corporate chef to focus on menu item recipes and new items and Zach Weiser to lead field operations, a role that includes improving carry-out and drive-thru efficiency as existing restaurants in Trumbull and Columbiana counties.

“We’re going to take the best of the three different restaurants, each are slightly different, each have their own slightly different nature and feel and take all the best of that and expand to a new location in the Youngstown area,” said Greg Vojnovic, CEO / president of Hot Dog Shoppe Holdings LLC.

The company is working with Cleveland-area commercial real estate firm CBRE to find a location in the Youngstown, Boardman or Canfield area, Vojnovic said. What they are scouting are buildings akin to a Pizza Hut, Ruby Tuesday or Denny’s.

Hot Dog Shoppe Holdings LLC, led by Vojnovic and his brother, Nick, both restaurant industry veterans, in March acquired the Hot Dog Shoppes in Warren, Girard and East Liverpool from the Trevelline and Doverspike families.

It was Paul Trevelline who founded the brand in 1946.

The existing locations, Vojnovic said, won’t change as the brand evolves, except perhaps the addition of an ice cream or custard dessert to the menu. That is not available at any of the restaurants. Vojnovic said he knows it’s wise not to tinker with a proven business.

“It’s a very successful business, so I did not buy the business to make it less successful … (and) our customers are very clear they do not like change so we are going to stay true to what they are asking for,” he said.

Kenyon will be the culinary leader for the restaurants. Part of his responsibility will be to ensure a “seamless continuation of the brand,” Vojnovic said. He previously worked with O’Charley’s in a field operations role, and at one time, worked at Jib Jab Hot Dog Shoppe.

Also, it’s Kenyon’s mother’s wedding soup recipe that is served at the restaurants.

Weiser of the Columbus area, previously worked with TGI Friday’s and Applebee’s in leadership roles. His focus will be on operation excellence and execution, Vojnovic said.

Both roles are newly created to incorporate responsibilities formerly held by Trevelline and Doverspike family members.

rselak@tribtoday.com

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