Monday, January 30, 2023

Corgi-themed hot dog joint opens on Jamestown Road

Debi and Glenn Helseth pose in front of Corgi wall art inside their new Toby's Dog House. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)
Debi and Glenn Helseth pose in front of Corgi wall art inside their new Toby’s Dog House.  The two have owned three Corgis, including the restaurant’s namesake. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)

A new restaurant is catering to dog and hot dog lovers alike.

Toby’s Dog House opened Monday at the location of the former Carrot Tree on Jamestown Road. It is owned and managed by the owners of Carrot Tree, and is named after their late Corgi, Toby, who died last year.

“Toby was probably the sweetest, gentlest dog I’ve ever come across,” said owner Glenn Helseth. “He was a cute dog, too, good looking dog. That’s why we put him on the menu.”

It’s not as morbid as it sounds. Toby’s image is featured at the top of the menu. Beneath Toby’s picture are the names of several breeds of dogs — each one corresponding to a different variety of Toby’s Dog House featured menu item: the hot dog.

The German Shepard comes topped with sauerkraut. The French Poodle is loaded with brie and French’s brown mustard. Retrievers, Great Danes and even a junkyard dog populate the menu.

Toby’s Dog House was a snack stand long before Helseth opened the restaurant of the same name. He began operating the Dog House next to the Yorktown Riverwalk in February 2014.

“I realized we were on to something good,” Helseth said.  “I built a really cool little cart. I bought a trailer and built a doghouse on the trailer and developed my full menu.”

An image of Toby. He injured his back, temporarily paralyzing his hind legs. The Helseths bought Toby a custom wheelchair to use as he recovered from surgery. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)
An image of Toby shared by Helseth. Toby injured his back, temporarily paralyzing his hind legs. The Helseths bought Toby a custom wheelchair to use as he recovered from surgery. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)

In addition to their location in Yorktown, Helseth and Toby’s Dog House catered several events, including the British Car Show, farmer’s markets, horse shows at Newport News Park, dog shows and Yorktown summer and fall concerts, Helseth said.

He said the hot dogs were well-received, and patrons recommended he make Toby’s into a permanent location.

“When [Carrot Tree] moved out of here, it just became natural to think about doing something here,” Helseth said. “People are used to having food at this location. We have a tremendous tourist destination with Jamestown and the local population around here is nothing but growing.”

Toby’s half-pound hot dogs cost less than $5, as are sides. Toby’s will also offer a variety of beers, and desserts, such as pies and brownies.

“Everyone wants a hot dog every once in a while,” Helseth said. “Lots of people want good cheap food.  You get a tourist family, they can’t handle some of the prices at some of these restaurants, and so I hope it’s going to work out well.”

A quiet opening will precede a grand opening at the end of May or early June, Helseth said, which will likely feature food and beer specials and a dog contest open to patrons’ pets.

“We’re going to make it as festive of an event as we possibly can,” Helseth said.

A Corgi greats guests outside of the Dog House. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)
A Corgi greets guests outside the Dog House. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)

Toby’s walls are already adorned with canine images and art, and guests drink coffee out of dog-themed mugs. Helseth said he plans to hang guest-submitted photos of their pets on the walls, too.

Behind the Dog House is a porch and green space, which Helseth said will soon be open for dogs and their human companions to relax and play. You may even see his new Corgi, Joey.

“It will be for dog lovers,” Helseth said. “We intend to encourage you to bring your dog.”

“You’re welcome here as long as your dog can vouch for you.”

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