At the age of 15, Jason Gaines turned his collectible baseball cards into profit. A few years later, he opened a sports memorabilia shop, realizing his true calling was to be his own boss.
In 2005, Gaines opened up his first hot dog cart after seeing someone selling food in front of a Home Depot. He had been thinking about opening a restaurant for several years. That first cart remained in the Chesterfield Valley Home Depot from 2005-2009. Today, Gaines has two carts inside Home Depot locations in Brentwood and Sunset Hills, and that much-anticipated restaurant.
In 2017, Gaines chose Monticello Plaza off Hwy. K in O’Fallon as the perfect location for his first Dirty Dogz restaurant. But he doesn’t run it alone.
It’s all about family at Dirty Dogz. Gaines may be the owner and operator, but his father, mother, brother and sister-in-law all help out at the restaurant as well as the Home Depot locations.
“My dad is 80 and he works at the carts every day,” Gaines said with a smile. “He loves to tell a baseball story or two.”
Freshness and quality are top priorities at Dirty Dogz and customers are greeted quickly with a warm smile and an inviting atmosphere. Plus, Dirty Dogz offers ongoing discounts to all first responders.
“Everything is cooked to order and made fresh. Someone is here every morning at 6:30 a.m. chopping up tomatoes and onions. Our hot dogs are 100-percent Black Angus beef and all of our buns are homemade by a local bakery,” Gaines said.
If you’re not in the mood for a hot dog, try some authentic tamales to spice up the day. And don’t forget dessert! The meal would not be complete without a deep fried Oreo.
Despite having such a specific niche in the food industry, Gaines and his family always are finding new ways to make a simple hot dog anything but simple. The menu always is evolving but stays creative and fun.
While the most popular hot dog always will be the Chicago style dog, one that is quickly gaining ground at Dirty Dogz is the Bacon Wrapped Dog, which is not only wrapped in bacon but also deep fried and then sprinkled with brown sugar and smeared with peanut butter. Gaines says he gets most of his menu ideas from his customers, which is where the Bacon Wrapped Dog originated. It also is his favorite dog on the menu right now.
Another favorite is the Garden Style Dog that’s topped with cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, banana peppers and red wine vinaigrette dressing.
Among its signature dogs is The Owner’s Dad, a half-pound link of smoked sausage topped with chili, creamy coleslaw and onions. The Red Hot Riplet features crushed Red Hot Riplet chips and ranch dressing.
Of course, no trip would be complete without at least one person in the party indulging in the namesake Dirty Dog – topped with chili, cheese, tomatoes, jalapeños and sour cream.
Whatever your choice, Dirty Dogz will be sure to tantalize your tastebuds.
“We have built up an amazing clientele and we love our regular customers,” Gaines said. “I have my Tuesday night group, my Wednesday night customers, my Thursday crowd.
“I get to know people really well and that’s the best part. The customers are what make this so great.”
So if you’re not already a regular, stop by. Maybe you’ll find yourself in one of Gaine’s weekly regular crowds. It’s happened before.