With the exception of deep dish pizza, Peter Lin savors the tastes of Chicago when he has a chance to visit the Windy City.
Lin, who last month took the reins of the 40-year-old Village Pretzels, is planning to incorporate some of Chicago's tastes - in particular Vienna beef hot dogs, sausages and roast beef sandwiches - into the eatery's menu in the coming months.
"We’re going to get hot dogs imported from Chicago," Lin said. "We'll be assembling the premium hot dogs to order."
But, Berks dog-lovers need not worry, Lin said that popular variety will be sticking around.
"People seem to like them," he said.
As Lin looks to expand his on-the-bun offerings, another Hatboro hot dog eatery - Denny's Dogs - is in the works.
"I’m not too worried about it," Lin said of the takeout restaurant planned for Jacksonville Road. "In Chicago there’s hot dog stands all over the place."
Besides beefing up the pretzel place's menu with more meat options, Lin said customers would also have the choice of having their hot dog buns steamed on a steam table.
And since sandwiches and fries seem to go hand-in-hand, Lin said he's looking to have a hood installed so French fries and onion rings can be made there as well. He expects that, as well as a soft-serve ice cream machine, to be installed by spring 2013. Along with chocolate, vanilla and twist, Lin said a "flavor burst" option will allow him to add eight different fruit flavors.
"I can try out as many as 80 and figure out which are the most popular," Lin said.
Lin, who has been the landlord of the Village Pretzels building since 2003, said he decided to try his hand as a small business owner when his long-time tenant retired in December. In his "normal business" Lin, a Dresher native and Upper Dublin High School grad, works for Warminster-based Eagle Stainless Container Inc., which manufactures stainless containers for pharmaceutical companies.
"I’m going to apply maybe for the first time manufacturing concepts … to a small restaurant," Lin said of his "interesting experiment."
"In manufacturing, it's called lean manufacturing ... It really makes things run more efficiently," he said. "A restaurant is a food manufacturer."
Lin's wife, Mei, who has had experience managing Chinese restaurants and a seafood takeout, will run the normal day-to-day operations at Village Pretzels, he said.
If all goes as planned, Lin said the outdoor seating situated to the side of the building will soon be enclosed, making way for an additional 16 or so seats in colder months and more than doubling the business' year-round seating.
In all, Lin expects to shell out $100,000 to enclose the porch, retile the floor and expand the business' food options. However, there's one facet of the business that Lin said will remain untouched.
"We’re going to keep the pretzels exactly the same," Lin said, noting that people have always come for the business' signature offering. "There’s a lot of repeat customers that started as kids."