Tal Shoemake was surrounded by hot dog stands as a youth growing up in Sherman Oaks. Many folks from the East Coast had moved to the San Fernando Valley, desiring the same choices they previously had from sidewalk hot dog vendors, Shoemake said. That’s why businesses such as the Wiener Factory and other popular fast food restaurants sprouted up offering steaming hot brats, chili-dogs, kraut-dogs, New York-style dogs, and a variety of other wiener choices.
But, that’s what was missing when Shoemake decided to make La Cañada home, he said.
Now, 15 years after moving here, Shoemake, 46, plans to turn a long vacant fast food structure at the corner of Young Drive and Foothill Boulevard into The Doghouse, a specialty hot dog stand offering to fill just about any hot dog hankering a person could have.
The Doghouse is set to open next month, after it receives final approval of signage, paint colors, awning and patio seating from the city planning department’s design review board.
“They just have to spruce it up a little bit,” said Chris Gjolme, a planner for the city of La Cañada Flintridge. “It’s really just a little bit of exterior work, not much left to do.”
Shoemake spent a few hours at the site Tuesday talking with painters and contractors, and overseeing the remaining details of his project.
He said he plans to replace the awning, add a metal service bar for ordering, and a few outdoor tables and chairs. Equipment also will be delivered for inside the structure.
Opening a hot dog stand has been a dream for Shoemake for the past few years as he has driven past the vacant facility, which, he said, is the perfect site.
Shoemake plans to have an extensive menu of hot dog choices, including chili cheese dogs, red cabbage dogs, coleslaw dogs, possibly veggie dogs or Polish sausage, and Tall Grass Beef organic hot dogs.
Shoemake said he’s looking forward to adding a hot dog element to La Cañada’s many fast food choices.
“I really want to have everything good like the Wiener Factory in Sherman Oaks — that’s my favorite,” he said.
Currently a bartender at the Arroyo Chop House, Shoemake has worked about 20 years in the restaurant industry.
He spent a lot of time in La Cañada while he and a friend from here played basketball together when they attended Glendale Community College. That’s when he fell in love with the city and decided to make it his home, he said.
Shoemake and his wife Jodi have three children: Nick, 16, a jazz trumpet player and student at Los Angeles County High School for the Performing Arts; Brendan, 15, a freshman at La Cañada High School; and, a 10-month-old daughter, Jamie.