I don’t know about you but during these cold months I’m often in search of a quick plate of some steaming comfort food to battle the Polar Vortex. Luckily, the winter winds blew me towards a hole-in-the-wall eatery on State Street called Jordan’s Hot Dogs & Mac.
Corey Spruill, who named the place for his four-year-old son, has hit on a winning combination. Inspired by Jordan, Spruill puts macaroni and cheese atop a grilled, split, foot-long Hummel’s hot dog. Add some jalapenos and bacon, and oh boy, comfort is in every bite.
The restaurant grew out of Spruill’s entrepreneurial spirit. A native of New Haven, Spruill decided during his senior year at Hillhouse High School that it was time for a job. His mother, Monica, had been a longtime fan of Pepe’s Pizza and found out they were hiring. Spruill got the job. He “started at the bottom – dishes,” then moved up to decorating pies with toppings, and after a year and a half he started cooking. He still puts in time at Pepe’s today.
“I always had it in me” to be an entrepreneur, he says. It took nine years until he took the leap and bought a New Haven residential rental property with savings from his Pepe’s job, and his good credit. Next, in 2009, he tried out a cleaning franchise but it wasn’t right for him. In 2010, with a partner, he opened his first restaurant, the Soul Burger, but again, it wasn’t quite working. Still game, he rented the small space at 957 State St.
Spruill laughs about why this next business didn’t take off. “I tried selling women’s fashion jewelry at this place, but I wasn’t a woman!” He went back to square one. “I figured everybody likes hot dogs, and mac & cheese, and there are no hot dog places in New Haven, so I thought it would be a winner.” It is. So much so that in April he’ll move across State Street to a larger space with tables and booths, and a better kitchen so he can add burgers, fries, salads and expand the hours.
It’s a bit of a family affair. His mother makes the mac and cheese with four different cheeses, and she doesn’t even share the recipe with Corey. His father, Leroy, “helps me every day. He’s there for me when I need him.” They make their own chili, a turkey version without beans, but with poblano peppers, onions, celery and spices.
Right now Spruill doesn’t have a vegetarian menu, but he expects that will be on the new menu in the new space.
Restaurant Website: https://www.facebook.com/Jordansdogsandmac
• The Detes: 957 State St., New Haven. 203-789-2244. Open Tuesday 11 a.m to 4 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday. 11:00 a.m. to 7 p.m.
• Price Range: Hot dogs $3.50 – 8.30, sides $1.25 – 8 (meal sized)
• Style of Food: All-American
• Favorite dishes: Bacon BBQ, Chili Mac Supreme and New England specialty dogs.
• Drinks: Foxon Park sodas
• Vegetarian: at the new location in April
• Delivery: yes!
• Catering: not yet