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Jun
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Hollywood icon Pink’s Hot Dogs opening in King of Prussia, but don’t expect more Pa. locations

June 21, 2018

Source, Philadelphia Business Journal, Kenneth Hilario

A touch of Hollywood is coming to the King of Prussia.

A Tinseltown stalwart for decades, Pink’s Hot Dog – which fed Michael Jackson, and where Bruce Willis proposed to Demi Moore — will open at the King of Prussia Mall.

It’s the family-owned company’s first location in Pennsylvania, and its second-generation owner said the Montgomery County mall may be it’s only spot in the state — in part to attain a certain standard for its brand and elevate the hot dog’s status in the culinary world.

“We want to make sure every location is managed properly, the food quality is consistent and customers have a wonderful experience. We don’t want them to feel like you can buy Pink’s anywhere,” current owner Richard Pink said. “The one thing that’s important is to limit the amount of supply of your hot dog, so people will say, ‘This is special and different.'”

Pink’s Hot Dogs, known for the “snap” made when its hot dogs are bitten into, later this summer will open at Savor, the high-end food court at the King of Prussia Mall.

At Savor, Pink’s Hot Dogs will replace The Fat Ham as the centerpiece, which closed in June 2017 as Chef Kevin Sbraga’s restaurant empire dissolved. Pink’s will join eateries Hai Street Kitchen & Co., sweetgreen, The Melt Shop, Nicoletta Pizzeria and Shake Shack.

Pink’s Hot Dog’s inception traces back to 1939 in Los Angeles when Paul and Betty Pink borrowed $50 from Betty’s mother to buy a pushcart and sell hot dogs in Hollywood. At the time, rent was $15 a month, hot dogs sold for 10 cents and Cokes were a nickel a pop.

A hot dog stand later opened in 1946, and the company’s since expanded to 14 locations, including outposts in the Philippines and Las Vegas.

Its flagship in La La Land fed big names like Stevie Wonder, Academy Award-winner Allison Janney and Orson Welles — who Pink said still holds the all-time record for most hot dogs eaten in one sitting at 18 chili dogs.

It is entering the market with the opening at the King of Prussia Mall, which could be the only place to find the glitz and glam of Pink’s in Pennsylvania.

“We want to keep Pink’s as unique as possible; we didn’t want to dilute it,” Pink said. “We teamed up with the King of Prussia Mall, one of the great malls of the United States. It’s unique, a real destination, with quality stores, and that’s what we wanted to be associated with.”

The King of Prussia Mall — the largest mall in terms of leasable area — has always been a high-end property, but the opening of the 155,000-square-foot corridor, in some ways, changed the game by connecting the Plaza and Court and adding more high-end retailers like Carolina Herrera and Diane von Furstenberg.

Mall owner Simon Property is embarking on another multimillion dollar project, the mall’s ninth redevelopment project. Simon will also transform the vacant J.C. Penney property into a mixed-use project that would involve apartments, a hotel and “outdoor work-play space.”

“This is still a family restaurant,” Pink said, “and our name, reputation and brand is so important to our family.”

The King of Prussia Mall is the only Pennsylvania location the family company is considering, but New York, Boston and Atlanta could be potential markets on the East Coast — “as long as the type of image that mall has is comfortable for our family.”

The high-end collection of tenants Simon Property curated at the mall — which includes restaurants True Food Kitchen, Pizzeria Vetri and Mistral from South Jersey, and upcoming restaurants North Italia, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and Marketplace Eatery — could help elevate the Pink’s brand but also the reputation of hot dogs as a meal.

Mall-goers will think “it must be good. They wouldn’t let Pink’s in this mall if it wasn’t an exceptional dining experience,” Pink said.

Pink’s sentiments further cement the King of Prussia area’s designation as a go-to place for national chain’s first-to-market locations. Just at the King of Prussia Town Center, eateries that have opened include Washington, D.C.-based Founding Farmers, and California-based MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Company and The Habit Burger.

Hot dogs and sausages – often viewed as something saved for sports games or the Fourth of July – has grown to be a $15 billion industry, which sees its popularity rise as meat prices go up and consumers become more budget conscious.

“Hot dogs are finally starting to come into their own as a dining experience,” Pink said. “Most chefs haven’t figured out how to make hot dogs into a unique, exceptional experience — almost at a gourmet level. That’s what our focus has been.”

That’s been the L.A. restaurant’s approach — differentiating its hot dogs amid the ones sold at supermarkets and baseball games.

“Maybe in 15 years, hot dogs will be the same as hamburgers, but right now there’s so much competition with the hamburger sphere,” he said. “The hotdog? Not really.”

The limited number of hot dog-centric restaurants in Greater Philadelphia include Fox & Son Fancy Corn Dogs at the Reading Terminal Market and New Jersey gourmet sausage chain Destination Dogs in Center City.

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