Downtown gains renowned hotdog restaurant

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McKenzie Maddox/Old Gold & Black

Mckenzie Maddox

The sizzle of hot dogs and smell of barbecue flavor the atmosphere of J.S. Pulliam’s Barbeque.

The restaurant, which was started in 1910 in an industrial neighborhood on the north side of town, is planning to open a new branch in downtown Winston-Salem on the corner of Sixth Street and Trade Street.

“I wanted to open up a new place downtown because I saw the opportunity of the new location after having watched downtown grow so much,” said Mark Flynt, the owner of Pulliam’s Barbeque. “It’s a really good place to have a business because of all the activity downtown. The events, the music on Trade and the Arts District all attract a lot of people.”

Flynt said that his restaurant used to be in a prime location “back in the day” when it was northeast of Whitaker Park, where the old cigarette factories of Reynolds Tobacco Company used to be, and east of the Piedmont Triad Airport.

These businesses attracted crowds of people to the north side of town. However, the closing of Piedmont Airlines and the closing of the Reynolds Tobacco plants on Reynolds Boulevard has made business on the north side a little slower.

“Things on the north side of town, where my location is now, just aren’t like what the use to be and there’s just not a whole lot of draw business-wise in this location anymore,” Flynt said. “We hope we can reach even more people in the new location.”

The renowned food attracts all different types of people.

In the restaurant you see people dressed in anything from business suits to blue jeans and work boots all chatting with each other while they eat their hot dogs and barbecue at the stand-up bar.

“I’ve been coming up to Pulliam’s for 40 years,” said Mike Newsome, a retired Winston-Salem police officer who lives in Advance, N.C. “I just love the barbecue. It’s just a stomping ground and I love coming up here and reminiscing about the times I use to come here when I was a kid.”

Flynt will continue to cook barbecue and hot dogs at the current location while his daughter Caitlin, who currently works with him, will move downtown to run the new restaurant location.

The new location, Flynt says, will run very similarly to the original location, definitely offering hot dogs and potentially offering barbecue, fries and hamburgers. The final menu is still in the works.

Although barbecue is in the title of the restaurant, over the years, Pulliam’s Barbeque has received a lot of press for its hot dogs.

“We sell about a dozen hot dogs to one barbecue,” Flynt said. “That’s the reason why we want to get away from calling the restaurant ‘Pulliam’s Barbeque’ and just call it ‘Pulliam’s.’ I’ve read a couple article reviews about us and several people have said they don’t know why it’s called ‘Pulliam’s Barbeque,’ because it’s really about the hot dogs.”

In 2011, Pulliam’s received national recognition for its hot dogs when they were featured in Rachel Ray’s Magazine as “Best Hotdog in the South.” In June of this year, MSN News ranked Pulliam’s in the Top 50 of “America’s Top 75 Best Hotdogs.”

The restaurant has also been locally featured on Local Eats as one of the best restaurants to eat in Winston-Salem and received high reviews on websites such as TripAdvisor as a good place to eat at while visiting Winston-Salem. Numerous food bloggers have also raved about the food and “old-school style dining.”

Flynt says he thinks that these great reviews are thanks to him and his family, who all work in the restaurant, creating a friendly environment and trying their best to make everyone feel welcome.

“My dad brought me up with the saying that everyone puts their pants on the same, no matter who they are,” Flynt said. “So my daughter Caitlin and I just try to meet everyone who walks through the door and joke with them, cut up and try to learn their interests. I’ve always said it’s kind of like a hairdresser who listens to people’s problems and not solve it for them, but just be there for them and show interest in them.”

As far as deciding how to decorate the new restaurant, Flynt says he wants to get the downtown community involved. The NASCAR presence in the area had contributed to his theme in the current restaurant and he says he will probably use the same theme in the new restaurant, but is open to suggestions from the downtown community. However, the stand-up style dining will definitely still remain the same.

“Our saying has always been ‘If you can stand up, you can eat more,’” Flynt said.