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The Daily Dish

Hot Dog! Richard Blais has a New Restaurant

The Top Chef All-Stars champ opens HD1.

By Colleen Werthmann

Richard Blais is going from burgers to dogs. The Top Chef All-Stars winner, who already boasts several high-end Atlanta restaurants and three Flip Burger boutiques, is giving the upscale treatment to hot dogs for his endeavor.

Richard talked to Nation's Restaurant News about HD1, his foray into classed-up hot dogs, explaining, "I didn't want HD1 to be a Flip Burger Boutique but with hot dogs, so it has more of an adult aesthetic, with dark wood and matte finishes. The menu's emphasis is on just good eating — sitting down, going at it, eating at communal tables."  (The way the room sounds, you wonder if masculine décor enthusiast and Rachel Zoe teamster Jeremiah Brent may have lent a hand.)

Richard talks about the diffs between running a burger joint and an "haute doggery," explaining, "There's opportunity to make more profit off of hot dogs, just because of what goes into them. On the other hand, there's not as much price flexibility. We've found that, even at $4, people are like, 'Wow, that's an expensive hot dog.' People understand better burgers because they've even seen them in fine-dining restaurants, but most people's understanding of the hot dog is from the supermarket or the backyard barbecue."

So what's working? "The Eastbound & Down with Carolina pulled pork, barbecue sauce and cole slaw does well, and I think it embodies the spirit of the restaurant: We're serious about the food, but not serious about ourselves. The classic is popular too. As creative as we want to get, people are going to gravitate to what they know.  Hot dogs are salty and fatty, so we also have alternative veggie dogs and salads."

Lest any foodie get the sads from reading the phrase "alternative veggie dogs and salads," Richard's quick to add, "We also make a poutine with pork belly, waffle fries and gravy, and a confit chicken wing of the day."

What do you think: can Richard take the hot dog high-end? Start a Tweet Battle and make your case.

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