The unusual green-and-yellow painting of a long-abandoned KFC building has grabbed the attention of Albert Leans driving on Broadway Avenue. -- Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

Hot dogs coming to former KFC

Published 10:52am Monday, February 27, 2012

A self-proclaimed fast food junkie is preparing to bring a unique blend of chow to Albert Lea.

Don Wheat of Sioux City, Iowa, purchased the former Kentucky Fried Chicken building on South Broadway Avenue and is planning to open the Hotdog House in the next few months.

“I’m a fast food junkie,” Wheat said. “That’s what I’ve eaten all my life.”

The Hotdog House has the town talking about its new paint job, which features wide yellow and green stripes. The eye-catching look was intentional, as Wheat said he wanted to paint the building a fun, attention-grabbing color.

“We’ve sort of created buzz in town with the way we painted the building,” he said.

As the name implies, the Hotdog House with feature Coney Island-style hot dogs, but that won’t be the only thing on the menu. The Hotdog House will feature KFC-style chicken, mashed potatoes, Maid-Rites (or taverns) and coffee and doughnuts in the morning.

Part of the fun for Wheat is that he can operate the Hotdog House how he likes and isn’t tied serving food specific to a fast-food chain, which means he can always adjust the menu.

“If I want to add strawberry pie, I can add strawberry pie tomorrow,” he said.

The food industry is a new venture for the longtime businessman. Wheat owns Alaskan Campers, a company based out of Chehalis, Wash., that manufactures the Alaskan Pickup. But the food industry isn’t a stretch from manufacturing, according to Wheat. Both take a raw material, create something and deliver it to the customer.

“This is very similar to manufacturing,” he said.

The opportunity came when Wheat saw the property for sale, so he said he bought it for a good price. Another plus was the building’s drive-through window, as Wheat said it could account for a large portion of the business.

Wheat is still fixing the building preparing to open, and he said he may move to Albert Lea to be closer to the business.

“It’s a wild adventure,” he said.

  • mar

    I think Hot dog House is clever, but I personally am disappointed that it’s not a specialty hot dog house…I think chicken & mashed potatoes or even Maid rites will NOT go over at all and it will just become another cafe like what we have already. I think about 6 of them are scattered on all sides of A.L. (all doing well) and we already have about 6 places that sell very good chicken and mashed potatoes. Kentucky Fried Chicken and Trails are acknowledged in travel guides as the best chicken around, and both grocery stores and Walmart are great too! How many more chicken choices do we need! It was just in the paper that a Maid Rite is on the way here. It would be nice if they would focus on what their sign advertises and make them many ways and the best in town..oh well