WINSTON-SALEM – Boone Doggies recently celebrated its first anniversary in business, offering hot dogs and fries out of a black-and-yellow truck in Winston-Salem.
Owner Drew Ausley, a Winston-Salem native who graduated from Reagan High School in 2009, is just 26 years old, but he already has carved out a path as a young entrepreneur.
Ausley graduated from Appalachian State University in 2013 with a degree in nutrition and foods and immediately came home to Winston-Salem and started operating a hot-dog cart.
“When people see I graduated in nutrition, they give me a hard time. But I say hot dogs are good for the soul,” Ausley said with a laugh.
“My roommates and I used to go to Charleston for spring break, and there were hot-dog carts all over the place. I thought that looked awesome and I’d try to do that in Winston-Salem.”
Ausley built up his cart business over a couple years before switching over to a truck in January of last year. “It got to where we were so busy, I couldn’t keep up with the cart, so I bumped up to the truck,” he said.
He chose the name Boone Doggies as a nod to his alma mater, and he painted the truck in Appalachian State’s black and yellow colors.
Ausley’s menu and business plan is streamlined so that he can manage with just one other employee, Stephen Foster.
The menu includes beef hot dogs ($3) with a variety of toppings, smoked sausages ($4), fries ($3), chips and drinks. A combination meal with two dogs, fries and drink goes for $7.
Ausley makes his own chili and slaw from scratch. He also hand-cuts his fries. A customer favorite is the candied jalapenos that he makes, too.
His father, Andrew Ausley II, operates Hal’s Holy Smokin’ BBQ in Yadkinville, and his son uses that commercial kitchen as a commissary for his Boone Doggies food prep.
And unlike food trucks that are often in a different spot every day of the week, Boone Doggies is usually parked at the same spot Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to about 3 p.m. Ausley has an agreement with the owner of an empty lot that allows him to set up just off the corner of Stratford and Clemmonsville roads. Ausley said he gets a lot of business from truckers and landscapers who drive up and down this stretch of Stratford every day, and from the workers at nearby Stratford Industrial Park.
On Fridays from about 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Boone Doggies often sets up at the Exxon station near Five Points on Stratford Road. On weekends, Ausley might go to a local brewery or pub.
Weston Baugess was at Stratford and Clemmonsville the other day getting his hot-dog fix. Baugess said he visits Boone Doggies about once a week. “The jalapenos are a must,” he said of his favorite dog topping. “And I like to support local businesses.”
Bryan Sharp also was out there the same day. Sharp, who works nearby, said he appreciates having a truck near work, because he doesn’t have long for lunch. “This is awesome,” he said. “I would wait in line my whole 30-minute lunch break just to get one of these hot dogs. You can’t beat this deal, and I’d have to drive farther to get anything else.”
Ausley said he appreciates the customer base he has built up over the years, first with his cart and then with his truck. He strives to give people a great dog, and he loves coming to work every day.
“I tell people the worst part is I eat a hot dog about every day,” he said with a smile. “Since I’ve started, I think I’ve eaten my weight in hot dogs.”