Wonder Wieners opened this outdoor kitchen at Ernie Biggs Piano Bar in October. Owner Cory Eden plans to retain the location after opening in Battlefield Mall this July.
Wieners, beer on tap for Battlefield Mall
Wonder Wieners is coming to Battlefield Mall.
What started as a fun joke for Cory Eden has snowballed into a full-fledged business. His company, Wonder Wieners LLC, signed a three-year lease with Simon Property Group (NYSE: SPG) and plans to open up shop in June.
In roughly 1,000 square feet formerly occupied by Northwoods Candy Emporium and Godiva Chocolates near the Dillard’s men’s entrance, Eden plans to sell what he calls “Seattle-style” hot dogs – a memory from his youth – along with eight beers on tap, including locals such as Mother’s Brewing Co.
“As far as I know, this is the first time beer will be sold inside the mall. It’s been sold on the edges, like at Ruby Tuesday, but not in the center,” he said, noting the space will seat about 20. “This will be a family-friendly place, with a sports bar feel. It’s not just for dudes; chicks are going to dig it, too.”
Architecture firm Hood-Rich Inc. currently is drawing up plans and Eden hopes to submit documents to the city for permits soon and begin infill work. Eden declined to disclose lease rates or startup costs, but said he and his wife have “tied up everything they own” in the venture.
“I wouldn’t do it if I had any doubt in my mind it wasn’t going to explode,” he said.
Wonder Wieners gourmet hot dogs are a mix of Eden’s own creations and Seattle street flair, combing unusual ingredients for the Ozarks palate.
“I love street meats,” he said. “Growing up, I used to go downtown and get a polish sausage with cream cheese and onions. It was just a food staple in Seattle, but when I moved here, people had never heard of such a thing.”
Eden’s been selling his gourmet hot dogs at Ernie Biggs Piano Bar’s outdoor kitchen along South Avenue downtown.
Eden’s journey to full-time wiener maker has been a long one. Currently a part-time home remodeler and electrician apprentice, Eden began making gourmet hot dogs while in college at Missouri State University. What started as fun for friends, turned into a Wonder Wieners hot dog cart outside the now-defunct Jordan Creek nightclub catering to the fraternity and sorority crowds.
“The name and the logo really sell themselves,” Eden said, adding sales led to the printing of shirts and hats. “In 2005, I trademarked the name and logo for the future, just in case.”
After a stint with the hot dog cart outside Busch Stadium in St. Louis and a few weddings, in October, Eden set up shop in semi-permanent space downtown. Ernie Biggs Piano Bar offered up its north patio as an outdoor kitchen. Through former MSU football player friends, the Wonder Wieners concept was pitched to Battlefield Mall General Manager Michael Martin, who Eden said jumped at the idea.
“He is from Austin, (Texas), and was brought in to shake things up at the mall. He approached me about opening up there,” Eden said. “I told him I don’t have the money to open up in the food court, I just do this on the side. Then, I asked about selling beer. He had to run it up the chain, but they loved it. So, I signed on.”
Reached this morning via phone, Martin declined to comment on the new restaurant, deferring questions to Simon public relations agency Motion PR.
For Eden’s first full brick-and-mortar-store, he’s currently still working out details – such as how many employees to hire – but said he has help. Shawn Washburn, a friend and co-owner of Early Bird Breakfast Pub, is advising on logistics and setup. A long-term goal, Eden also is working with Horrmann Meat Co. to develop and package his own line of meat.
Operating under the slogan, “Stuffin’ buns since 2001,” Eden said mall officials already see the slogan and logo as having “huge selfie potential.”
“It’s been crazy, just nuts,” Eden said of the build-up to opening, “but it’s been wonderful. I really do want to be the Oscar Mayer of the future.”
Assembled and severed “Subway style” as Eden calls it – where customers can pick toppings as they move through the order line – Wonder Wieners offers options such as tomatoes, onions and jalapeno wonder jams.