Business

Yogurt World Closing But Hot Dog World Thrives

Steve and Dora Katsadouros stand behind Yogurt World’s toppings bar, pre-pandemic.

Hendersonville – Yogurt World in Hendersonville is closing on Sunday as the latest local economic casualty of the pandemic, but longtime sister business Hot Dog World is thriving in the pandemic-limited economy.

A new eatery—a Mediterranean restaurant—is already lined up for 228 Kanuga Road to replace Yogurt World, which will operate through this Sunday, November 22. It opened nine years ago on November 19, 2011.

Dora and Steve Katsadouros (“Cot-suh-DOOR-us”) have run their respective eateries next to each other for nearly a decade. Steve is known by many as Hendersonville’s “Hot Dog King.” 

“We count our blessings our [HDW] business is still thriving,” Steve said. “If anything, we’re at times overwhelmed trying to keep up with demand.”

Longtime friends Marisa Araya and Dora co-manage Yogurt World, and co-own it along with Steve.

Owners of a Mediterranean to-go restaurant in Greensboro are the frontrunners for 228 Kanuga, and are strongly considering adding a similar eatery (pizza, subs, stromboli, etc.) here with perhaps limited indoor dining, said Steve. Families conceivably could split orders between an incoming restaurant and HDW.

There has been an inquiry to put an ice cream store there, Steve said. That would extend the one-two punch of HDW’s hot dogs, burgers, or gyros, then dessert next door.

Steve and Dora now own the stand-alone building. It was willed to them by Dora’s father Phillip Poulos. He passed away in August at age 86,, at home in Asheville.

Poulos opened Hot Dog World in 1986, in what was a Sonic then Cardinal Drive-in, at the south edge of downtown Hendersonville.

In ’86, fiancees Steve and Dora bought HDW. Their 34th wedding anniversary is November 30. Steve took over HDW on New Year’s Day ’87. Thanasi Tsakalos has co-owned it since ’97, oversees daily operations, and leads the busy food prep line. Steve often assists. Dora said she will be “helping Steve at Hotdog World, when he needs me there.”

Dora Katsadouros is at the yogurt dispensary back in 2012, months after opening Yogurt World. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
Dora Katsadouros is at the yogurt dispensary back in 2012, months after opening Yogurt World.

Ran its Course

Business “dropped off too much” in this pandemic-restricted year to stay in business, Dora told The Tribune. Closing Yogurt World “was a no-brainer, from a business perspective,” Steve said. “You can only [financially] bleed, for so long. It ran its course” over time—“couple that with COVID” bans on self-serve for yogurt and toppings.

Patronage frequency dipped in recent months, he said. “Instead of coming every week, many customers came in once a month” to Yogurt World.

Gift cards for Yogurt World need to be redeemed there by November 22.

Dora broke news of the closing November 1 on Facebook. “We’ve seen business pick up” in these final three weeks, Dora said. “Customers say ‘thank you.’ They continue to support us ’til our last day.”

Dora said she will miss seeing patrons’ camaraderie. “My [successful] plan was to see customers come in, sit, relax, and enjoy each other. The same family or group of friends came here for years and would talk, laugh, and share stories.”

She added, “We have one wonderful community. We are grateful for nine wonderful years. We will always cherish the friendship and support of everyone who walked through our doors.”

Marisa and Dora take turns working the register and serving customers from the yogurt machine and adding requested toppings.

Customers liked the hands-on of adding their own toppings when allowed. State rules prohibit that, to limit germ contact. “A vast majority are fine with us serving them,” Dora said. “They respect safety protocols.”

Busy HDW To-Go

While Yogurt World could not survive economic hardships in 2020, Hot Dog World has done so. “We’re 90% of the (monetary) bottom line,” compared to a year ago and a typical year, Steve said.

This is since regular customers seem to come less often but load up with food more each time, Steve said. “Our orders are larger—more for the whole family.”

This offsets soaring expenses. “Food is 25% higher,” Steve said. “Paper goods are up 35%.” HDW still double bags food, for insulation. Worst is “gouging” of sanitary gloves skyrocketing from $40 to $150 per bulk box. 

Hot Dog World has made a smooth transition from indoor dining and carry-out to strictly to-go service. Staff brings food to customers, who wait in their cars. HDW rivals NASCAR pit crews for teamwork, precision, and efficiency. “A [completed order] ticket goes out every minute to minute and a half” on average, Steve said. “We work seven tickets at a time.”

Steve Katsadouros periodically checks with customers. He finds “the majority are very happy.” Larger orders are taking more time to fill, Steve noted. Peak times are typically 11:30 a.m. to 1:30, then 5-7 p.m., Steve noted.

A patron can estimate the wait by gauging the number of vehicles parked around HDW. Steve suggests trying to park by HDW, not on the far side of Yogurt World “where we might not see you. If we see you, we’ll come to you.” Those parking afar are encouraged to walk (with masks on) to the HDW patio to place orders. “We may ask you to wait in your car, and we’ll bring it to you.”

Calling in orders ahead saves time. Fries are not bagged until the customer has arrived, to keep them fresher.

HDW hired four extra workers to keep up with food preparation and, now, also serving. As he notes, “people are generous—tipping the staff, rewarding their hard work.”

For more on HDG, check hotdogworld.net or call 697-0374 to place an order for pickup.