Brick hot dog and burger at Pal's Sudden Service weigh a combined 6,500 pounds.
Pal's Sudden Service Brick hot dog and burger at Pal's Sudden Service weigh a combined 6,500 pounds.

The newest Pal’s Sudden Service location being built at the corner of State of Franklin Road and Sunset Drive in Johnson City, Tenn., will look a little different than the 28 other regional locations of the beloved quick-serve restaurant. Johnson City leaders didn’t want the traditional giant, fiberglass hot dog and burger atop the vibrant, blue-painted block building. Instead, they wanted the outside of the new restaurant to be made completely of brick.

Pal’s Sudden Service President and CEO Thom Crosby says his company complied with the City’s demand while creating an alternative design that will continue to set Pal’s apart and delight customers.

“Everything about Pal’s is designed to delight our customers, from our food to our employees to our distinctive buildings that our customers love. But for the new Pal’s, the city planning department wanted us to change our design to be more like every other restaurant,” explains Crosby. “Unfortunately, these changes increased the cost of building at this new location and meant that instead of using local workers to craft our traditional giant hot dog and burger, we had to spend those dollars in Nebraska. That is where we found a supplier who was able to make our giant trademark images from brick.”

Although forced to use out-of-town suppliers for new material, Crosby says that as usual, the rest of the building is being constructed by local workers. For the exterior of the store, Crosby opted to use General Shale cream-colored brick to complement the new brick icons. Built by local contractor Burleson Construction, the new restaurant will employ more than 50 local workers and generate thousands of dollars in new sales tax and property tax revenue for Johnson City and Washington County.

Crosby adds that, unless restricted again, future Pal’s restaurants will be built using the traditional design and local businesses for the exterior materials. He says that the alternative design for this Johnson City location added about $250,000 to the cost of the structure.

“Pal’s is only in the business of delighting our customers. The people of Johnson City will need to ask their city commissioners why this requirement was made,” Crosby says. He adds, “The giant hot dog and burger might be a little different, but the food and service will be the same that our customers have grown to know and love.”

The brick hot dog and burger icons were designed by brick artist Jay Tschetter of Images in Brick of Lincoln, Neb. Another Lincoln company, Yankee Hill Brick, provided the brick for the food art, which combined, weigh in at 6,500 pounds.

To celebrate the completion of the project, Pal’s delivered enough hot dogs and chili to feed the Nebraska crews who worked on the bricks with instructions on how to construct the hot dogs the “Pal’s Way,” including how much chili to add and how to dice the onions to the perfect size. The new location, within the new Food City shopping center off State of Franklin Road, is expected to open later this summer.