Dat Dog is no longer coming to Arlington Marketplace, holding up plans for a Baton Rouge location of the New Orleans-based gourmet hot dog chain.
Franchisee David Halpern—who, along with his nephew, Teva Sempel, two years ago announced they would open Baton Rouge’s first Dat Dog—says the plug was pulled a couple of months ago on the location, a 3,000-square-foot suite bound by West Lee Drive, Burbank Drive and Ben Hur Road, near LSU.
“It’s a shame because it’s part of the new development of Baton Rouge and it’s in a great location,” Halpern says of the suite, “but the space doesn’t work for us with the way that typical Dat Dog restaurants are designed.”
Arizona-based landlord The Eisenberg Company confirms the space will be leased to Five Guys.
Consequently, Halpern and Sempel have also stalled progress on their other two planned Baton Rouge locations. Decisions regarding the brand’s future in Baton Rouge will ultimately be up to Dat Dog Enterprises, Halpern says.
Paul Tuennerman, CEO of Dat Dog Enterprises, says the company began reconsidering the Baton Rouge spot late last year amid a focused effort for the brand to “embrace its roots.”
“If you look at that street corner by Arlington Marketplace, that’s not really who we are; putting us in a strip center and commercializing us doesn’t make us Dat Dog anymore,” Tuennerman says. “We are authentically New Orleans and need to make sure we reflect this as we expand.”
He doesn’t rule out a Baton Rouge expansion but says there aren’t currently any plans to open a local eatery. If the company decides to move forward with a Baton Rouge location, he says it would likely open a corporate-affiliated restaurant instead of a franchise.
“While we firmly believe there’s a spot for us in Baton Rouge,” says Tuennerman, “we haven’t found it, as of this afternoon.”
Editor’s note: this article has been updated to include the fact that the space has been backfilled to Five Guys.