Two food-service veterans have resurrected the Old North End’s O.N.E. Pepper Grill as a red-blooded American joint serving hot dogs, burgers, wings and craft beers.
Co-owner T.J. Chelak Jr., of T.J.’s Dawg House seasonal hot dog stand in Williston, has anchored the menu with his oversized Vienna Beef hot dogs, topping them with a choice of chili, melted cheddar, sauerkraut, cole slaw and baked beans.
Chelak and his partner, Toby Dion, reopened the eatery on March 1, keeping the name and the wooden tables built by the Grill’s previous owner, Sam Lai. They also held on to the couch and televisions and introduced an enormous, lamp-equipped Vienna Beef umbrella to illuminate the interior. “We’d like you to feel as though you’re in your living room,” says Dion.
Besides dogs, Italian sausage, kielbasa and bratwurst sandwiches are on the menu, along with wings, fried pickles, hand-cut fries, burgers, salads and a pair of Mexican dishes. A range of local bottled beers lines the bar.
Dion and Chelak met last year when Dion stopped in at T.J.’s Dawg House. He’d recently moved back to Vermont after running an eatery in Arizona. Meanwhile, Chelak had been casually looking for space for a sit-down hot dog place: “It had always been in the back of my head,” he says.
Lai and his partner, Max Saltis, closed the O.N.E. Pepper in January because they couldn’t find enough time for it, they said. (Lai continues to run China Express down the street.) The new owners viewed the space in February — though the timing was not exactly ideal for Chelak, whose wife had their second baby just last week.
“We’ve been running around with our heads cut off. But opportunity is one of those things you have to act on, or you miss it,” he says. Chelak still plans to reopen T.J.’s later this spring, leaving Dion to man the grill at O.N.E. Pepper.
The eatery is open every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and offers bicycle delivery through Crucial Couriers.