Looming over route 112 is a giant hot dog. Beneath it lies a tiny restaurant. First National Franks in Medford, N.Y. is like a hot dog truck, only without wheels.
Franks first started serving hot dogs in November 2009 and is open year round for breakfast, lunch and an early dinner.
“Everybody was kinda doing the burgers between Burger Shack, Five Guys, McDonalds, Wendy’s, places like that,” said Frank Marinaro, 26, owner of First National Franks. “No one really utilized hot dogs at all.”
So, Marinaro decided to put a twist on fast food by making it about hot dogs instead of hamburgers.
“It’s fast because you get fast food but it’s not processed, it’s fresh,” said Jennifer Morbillo, 25, manager and head chef at Franks.
Morbillo has been around since the restaurant’s opening. Her role has been to organize the kitchen and help Marinaro come up with creative hot dogs. They took ideas from the food network and personal experiences.
“Good quality food, great ingredients, a friendly atmosphere,” said customer Cathy Coots, after her first meal at Franks.
Each hot dog isn’t placed on a standard hot dog bun, but a fresh “torpedo roll” from Modern Bakery in Oakdale, N.Y. They push the hot dogs over the top, but Morbillo says that is the point. She wants Franks to have the biggest and best hot dogs around.
The cozy restaurant has orange and yellow walls that bring thoughts of ketchup and mustard. There are quotes on the walls to add character to the place such as, “Never eat more than you can lift.”
The most popular hot dog is the New Yorker, which is just sauerkraut and mustard. But the Bronx Bomber, second in popularity, is a heavily topped hot dog made with chili, onions, cheese and mustard. Altogether, there are 11 specialty hot dogs, not including specials that come around in different seasons.
“A lot of people kind of create their own and just wing it and take an idea we have and either add, subtract, or put their own twist on it,” said Marinaro. “So, we have infinite specialty hot dogs.”
But Franks doesn’t only have hot dogs. They also have hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches and of course, french fries.
French fries are different from other restaurants as they are made with fresh Yukon gold potatoes, unlike many other restaurants that use Idaho potatoes, according to Marinaro.
Franks is currently in the process of coming under new ownership. Marinaro had a person who was interested in purchasing the business because of the concept, so he moved forward.
The deal will become official within the next couple of weeks, but for now, Marinaro is still in charge. Luckily for frequent flyers at Franks, the menu will stay the same and Morbillo will still be the chef.
“I think it has great potential to expand,” Morbillo said. “And I would want to be a part of that.”