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JoJo’s Grill-A-Dog: More than the Best Hot Dog in Yucaipa
Since its grand opening in January, JoJo’s Grill-A-Dog has won over Yucaipa residents with its exceptional grilled hot dogs and customer service. For co-owners Ryan Molnar and Jason Tang, delivering that package to local residents is something to be proud of.
“Yucaipa is just a big part of who we are,” said Molnar. Because both he and his wife are lifelong residents, “We’ve always wanted to open something in Yucaipa that would invite people to come in and enjoy something new.” After graduating from business school at the University of Redlands last year, Molnar paired up with friend and fellow graduate Jason Tang to open JoJo’s Grill-A-Dog.
The concept was simple: Develop a fast-casual dining establishment that redefined customer service, with a simple product they could execute with creativity and excellence. All beef and Polish hot dogs seemed to fit the bill. “Hot dogs are the second most consumed food in America,” Molnar said. “So we wanted to bake fresh buns, have a high quality hot dog and fresh toppings, and put it in a setting where people wanted to come, hang out and reminisce about a better and simpler time.” They outfitted that setting with reclaimed wood, brick and metal in the interior, and placed ample umbrella table seating on the patio to take advantage of the outdoor dining space shared with Yogurtland. “We feel fortunate to be next to them,” Molnar said.
After the quality all beef or Polish dogs, which are always grilled in front of the customer, the hallmark of JoJo’s Grill-A-Dog is the toppings: jalapenos, bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, sauerkraut, avocado and more. While conventional sweet relish is available, it’s the bright green neon relish – the only relish there is, as far as hot dog fans in Chicago are concerned – that has everyone talking. Chili dogs are also available at JoJo’s, and there are currently seven sauces to choose from. Molnar’s wife, Charity, has developed each sauce herself and has made the signature, house-made Mojo sauce locally famous overnight. The sweet, tangy barbeque sauce is a perfect consistency for hot dogs, but less conventional condiments – including creamy chipotle, sriracha and Mexican crema – have also become popular. “We’ve added things as customers have asked about them,” Tang said. Side orders include macaroni salad, cole slaw and house-made potato chips; the two salads are Molnar family recipes, passed down through generations for over 100 years.
Like In ‘n Out, Starbucks and other household names before them, JoJo’s Grill-A-Dog is gradually building on its list of “secret menu” items. One that is gaining traction is the Western Bacon Dog, which features white American cheese and crispy fried onions. Another, the “Motherclucker,” is a hot dog with a freshly fried egg, jalapeno bacon and white American cheese smothered with Mojo sauce. There will also be a health-conscious hot dog option coming this summer.
As for the shaved ice, it’s what all the cool kids are eating. “We found that anyone who truly knows what Hawaiian style shaved ice is, they come find us,” Molnar said. “You typically can’t get authentic Hawaiian style shaved ice here on the mainland, and it is absolutely amazing.” Molnar and Tang went to Hawaii to scope out the best techniques for crafting shaved ice the way the islanders do, and they offer something even more unique to the area: “We import all of our syrups from Hawaii, and we use pure cane sugar,” Molnar said.
“We both love Hawaii,” Tang echoed. “I lived there for a little bit as well. We wanted to bring a little Aloha to Yucaipa,” he said, with flavors like lilikoi, guava and papaya. There are 22 shaved ice flavors in all, with specialty combinations on the menu and plenty of custom order options. “If you want it and we have it, we’ll do it for you,” Tang said. The Strauss Family organic vanilla bean ice cream, which comes from the first certified organic dairy farm in California, is best known as part of the root beer float selection; however, it can be paired with any flavor the customer likes. “If you’re smart, you order it with everything,” Molnar said. Solidifying the JoJo’s commitment to customer service, he said, “We’re in the people business. We just happen to serve really great hot dogs and shaved ice.”
Fast Facts: JoJo’s Grill-A-Dog
Location: 33694 Yucaipa Blvd #1, Yucaipa, CA 92399
Contact: (909) 797-2444; comments@JoJosGrillADog.com
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10:30 AM to 9:00 PM; Friday and Saturday, 10:30 AM to 10:00 PM; closed Sundays
Business profile: Open since January 17, 2015; co-owned by Ryan Molnar and Jason Tang; 22 part-time employees, including high school and college students
- Mondays: $4.25 mini-combo meal for seniors 55 and over
- Tuesdays: 2 for 10 (2 hot dogs and 2 drinks for $10)
- Wednesdays: T-Bird Day (hot dog and shaved ice for $5 with valid high school ID)
- Thursdays: Family Pack Day (call for details)