I’ve been a huge proponent of wood and charcoal over gas grilling for years. My fancy gas grill sits covered, mostly unused while my little Webber table top grill is fired-up almost weekly and I always throw some wood in the mix for that flavor that can’t be beat. So when I heard there was a new hot dog and burger joint in town my interest was piqued immediately. Jerry’s Wood Fired Dogs in Carlsbad offers up many varieties of hot dogs, sausages, burgers and more and based on several visits I’m giving this place a huge thumbs up. Its pretty simple, wood-fired makes stuff taste better and everything they put on the grill is pretty darn good to begin with. Jerry’s is owned by the husband and wife team of Phil and Mindy Pometto and I had a conversation with them recently to learn more about Jerry’s.
You and your husband had successful careers prior to opening Jerry’s, what made you take the plunge into restaurant ownership?
I grew up in Maryland and worked in the restaurant business since I was 13. I did everything in the business, including opening my own restaurants. I moved to San Diego 20 years ago and vowed never to work in restaurants again. Mindy and I both have successful real estate and mortgage careers but like they say, “Never Say Never!” Here I am again, 20 years later.
There are a lot of franchise options out there, how did you pick Jerry’s Dogs?
The first Jerry’s Dogs I went to was in Ladera Ranch four years ago. From the first time I walked in there, I knew this concept would be a huge hit in San Diego. We are only the fourth franchisee for Jerry’s so we get a lot of flexibility with things. We have the ability to try new things all the time. Our store is actually the first store with local draft beer, four taps from Belching Beaver Brewery. Huge success!
Your wood fired grill makes a huge difference in the flavor of the food…in a great way. Besides the great flavor it gives your dogs and burgers, your restaurant smells amazing. Tell me about the wood you use and the process of keeping that fire at the right temperature all day.
We burn Almond wood in our grills. It burns very consistently and doesn’t have a real overwhelming taste, like say mesquite. There is definitely a skill to cooking over real wood and it takes a bit for our cooks to learn…but who wants their burger tasting like gas?
I was really impressed by everything I sampled at Jerry’s. The Chicago dog was spot on, the Bavarian bratwurst was full of flavor and had great texture, and I loved the burger. Tell me about some of your top sellers and other menu options.
Our Chicago Dog is probably our best seller on the hot dog side. It is very traditional, from the bright green relish to the sport peppers and right down to the poppy seed buns. We have a lot of Chicago natives visiting our store every day. Other top sellers include our Chili Cheese Frito Dog and our California Dog, which includes fresh avocado, tomatoes and grilled onions, peppers and mushrooms. But, even though we are called Jerry’s Wood-Fired DOGS, our burgers sell like crazy. Can’t match that wood-fired taste.
I also noticed that the skin-on-fries had that elusive crispy outside and light and fluffy inside. Is that accomplished through the cooking process or are they just killer fries?
We would like to say a little bit of both. The seasoning we use on our fries and house-made potato chips really sets our product apart. For those saucy people out there, we offer 10 specialty-dipping sauces for free such as Garlic Parmesan, Chipotle Aioli and Blossom Horseradish. We have customers who just come by for fries, which make for a nice afternoon snack.
We are in Southern California so it was probably a given that you have vegetarian options. Tell me about those.
Absolutely! We wouldn’t do it any other way. We have several menu items created just for the vegetarian, such as our O.C Dog, which is a veggie dog with avocado, feta, lettuce, cucumbers, diced tomatoes and ranch. You can also build any of our favorites around a veggie dog. Whether a true vegetarian or not, people rave about our veggie burger. You can also order any of our dogs or burgers protein style, wrapped in lettuce.
It’s nice you have beer and wine available. If I’m having a party is catering available?
We would love to cater your next event, however big or small. We offer full onsite grill catering for corporate, school, non-profit, fundraising and private events. We also just catered four school festivals this month with great success. We recently customized an October Feast Menu for a local company party There is nothing like the wood-fired smell to get your guests excited and hungry!
Jerry’s also has what they call a Happy Dog Hour. Join them Monday through Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m. with $3 specialty dogs and $4 craft beers on tap. We have TV’s playing your favorite sports as well as indoor and outdoor seating. They are located at 7040 Avenida Encinas in Carlsbad. (760) 454-1414 or jerrysdogs.com