Amidst the parking lot chaos and shopping carts left astray is an unexpected spot to fuel the hungry.
Commonly known as “the hot dog guy”, Johnny Norton is the manager of the popular hotdog stand by Canadian Tire in Terrace that has people driving hours to take a bite — all convinced there is none better in the Northwest.
“[People] like coming out to grab a hot dog,” says Norton. “We had some people come as far as from Quesnel, who said they drove here just to get a hot dog… we must be doing a good job if they’re coming back for more.”
Officially named the ‘And The Wiener Is Hotdog & Smokey Stand’, the humble pop-up canteen has been serving a unique selection of hot dogs, including the famous Terrace Long Dog, for six years now. With countless posts on social media applauding their food, Norton says the reason they have gained such popularity is because how different and locally sourced their hot dogs are, which are custom made by The Sausage Factory in Smithers, B.C.
Tucked into a freshly grilled bun, the popular Terrace foot-long hot dog is served with bacon, fried onions and jalepeno relish. Other hot items include the Double Dog Dare You, Bavarian Smokey, the Marmaduke, The Not So Long Terrace Hot Dog, The California Terrace Long Dog and just the classic Jumbo Hotdog. All these and more have people lining up every lunch hour, eager to top up their dogs with some extra toppings.
“It’s not ketchup [we have], there’s sauerkraut, onions, jalapenos, banana peppers, sweet relish and mayonnaise,” says Norton.
All the hot dogs were originated and named by his father Lloyd, who bought and now owns the stand as a retirement gig. He saw a creative opportunity with the menu and decided to come up with few recipes of his own. Often experimenting with different combinations during family BBQs, Norton says his father always liked to have fun with his food.
“He was working other jobs for a while, but then decided to run the hotdog stand because he likes cooking hot dogs,” says Norton. “We usually come up with new things each year… [and we] always use the thermometer make sure the food is up to temperature.”
Although his father casually comes by to help run the stand, Norton quit his other jobs to serve hotdogs full-time. Previously, he worked as a carrier for the Terrace Standard and as a dishwasher at a few local restaurants.
He says they had to hire two employees to keep up with their demands, sometimes serving dozens of customers at once. Whether it’s rain or shine, they’re there taking the heat every week from Wednesday to Sunday. Sometimes, they end up with a sunburn from standing outside all day.
For Norton, he’s convinced that another secret weapon to their success is the BBQ. For six years since opening, they’ve used the same grill to make all their hot dogs which he says makes them right.
And to further conquer another realm of a foodie’s delight, their stand now includes pan-fried pierogies served with bacon, onion and a beer sausage.
Despite a few hard days and the unavoidable complaints every once in a while, Norton says he loves working the hot dog stand and meeting all the people he serves. For him, the best feeling is when somebody tries their food and immediately asks for a second.
“We get all the nice customers coming by and they’re happy when we set up,” he says. “[It’s great to see that] we got the good reviews when they come back and on Facebook.”
Fortunately for those who have yet to sample the Terrace Long Dog or any of the other menu items, ‘And The Wiener Is Hotdog & Smokey Stand’ has gone mobile. Norton says their customers can find them at the Terrace Speedway events and at the Malicious Monster Truck tour coming up.