They’ll Nickle and Dime Ya – Custard Stand

 Susan says…

I think this review is a good candidate for the He Said/She Said format since I disagree with some of Ron’s comments.  My words are in blue.

Ron Says…

I totally got screwed at this joint.  First let me say I wanted to review the Wendy’s Bacon Deluxe Burger, but we stopped here at Flatwoods, and well the Wendy’s could not accept a gift card.  Something about their modem line and all that.  If they had put a sign out with more info I could say more about it.  I also could have not waited in line for five minutes, but that is a story for a different blog post. 

Susan says – OK.  This part is true.  We stopped at Wendy’s because a nice Wendy’s rep sent Ron a $5 gift card to try the bacon burger and write about it. We waited forever for them to try to get the gift card to work, but it didn’t really matter because we had no cash – I was planning to pay for mine with my debit card.  If the modem wasn’t going to work for the gift card, it wasn’t going to work for the debit card and therefore we weren’t getting a bacon burger.

So because Susan was starving, we decided to check out this place if not for anything other than website content. 

Susan says – I concur.  I was starving.  This condition occurs quite frequently.  I really enjoy a hot dog every now and then so I suggested Custard Stand.  I don’t really care for McD’s, Taco Bell or KFC and Ron absolutely refuses to eat at Subway.  The Arby’s is in a gas station so that’s out.  It was either Custard Stand or a bag of nuts from the Amish store in the “outlet mall”.   Ha!  What a joke.  Do people really drive to Flatwoods just to go to that place?  I can see going there for the Fiesta store, but that’s it. 

After all I have to remind myself why I do not like hot dogs every now and then. 

So right there tells you that my review is going to be biased, but because I know it’s biased means that what I write will be filtered due to that bias and you will get an honest unbiased review.  Even though I’m writing it, so I’m probably a little bit biased in my own personal opinion.

(that was the disclaimer)

If you asked ten people from the surrounding area, who makes the best Hot Dog Chilli, I bet eight of them would say Custard Stand.. I can’t explain it, but they will.  (ok again this is not a scientific statistical fact about the eight out of ten, it simply just sounded good, it very well could be ten out of ten or two out of ten, I don’t know. I’m just typing to fill up space and waste your boss’s time)

Susan says – If I serve hot dogs at home or at work, I always buy Custard Stand chili because that is what EVERY person I have ever questioned concerning hot dog chili has recommended.  They don’t even suggest I make it myself.  Just buy the tub of Custard Stand chili.  I myself do not eat hot dog chili.  To me it resembles dog food and is completely unappealing.  I don’t like the smell, either.  Eeeeeeewwwww.  I won’t eat Sloppy Joe’s so don’t try commenting that “I can’t believe you don’t like hot dog chili, you probably like Sloppy Joe’s and it looks like dog food, too.”  And the spaghetti sauce at that place in Barboursville looks just like hot dog chili.   Tascali’s.   OMG – there is no freakin’ way I am eating that spaghetti sauce.  They shouldn’t even be allowed to call it spaghetti sauce. 

Well I ordered one Old Fashioned Hot Dog with Chili +1 Topping for $1.29, this according to the menu board, allowed me a hot dog with chili and one topping.  This implies that I can choose the toppings from the toppings list.  Is this not a reasonable assumption?

WELL that is not the case -

The menu says:

Hot Dog Toppings
Diced Fresh Onion, Homemade Slaw
Sweet Relish $0.10
American, Mozzarella,
or Nacho Cheese, Sauerkraut $0.20
Grilled Peppers and Onions $0.75
Ketchup & Mustard – No Charge

Examine that.  The only thing that’s different about what I typed and what the Custard Stand had written is that I used the $ instead of the cent symbol, and that’s because I do not know how to type that.

So…  for $1.29 I get chili and one topping.   I personally think I’m entitled to all of the said toppings,  but I’m sure one could make a case that where they point out the extra charge I need to pay more.    Rest assured The Custard Stand will explain it to you as they know what they intend.

Susan says – I read the same menu and I completely understood that you had a choice of the $0.10 toppings for the stated price.  However, every little thing is priced here.  Hence the title of the post.  There are two ways to look at the Custard Stand’s pricing:

1) From the owner’s perspective – (Since I am not the owner, my comments for this point are purely supposition.  I am trying to put myself in their position and empathize.)  Perhaps the owners are trying to keep the prices as low as they can.  They give you the rock-bottom price for the basics, but if you want extras, then you pay a nickle here and a dime there.  Maybe they have performed extensive analysis to arrive at these prices.  Maybe they are trying to cut down on waste by handing out ketchup and salt packets only if you ask for them. 

2) From the customer’s perspective – It didn’t really bother me that the toppings cost a little bit more.  I don’t mind paying for what I want if the prices seem reasonable.  Ron argued with me that there was no way he got $0.10-worth of onions on his hot dog.  I think he may have tried to count them.  He asserted there was not even a tablespoon of diced onion and I have to agree with him on that.  Now, is slaw or chili worth an extra dime?  Absolutely.  There is not only ingredient cost, but cost of preparation because they make those items themsleves.  I can dice an entire onion in 48.2 seconds.  Could they toss a few squares on a hot dog for the standard price?  Probably.  $0.20 for cheese – seems reasonable to me.  Why are the grilled peppers and onions so high?  How many can fit on top of a hot dog?  A quarter’s-worth?  Fitty cents-worth?  We can’t really say because we did not witness it on our visit. 

Good thing Ron didn’t order a burger or he would have bitched about paying $0.30 for A-1 sauce all the way to Buckhannon. 

Really for $1.29 you get a bun, a weiner, chili and either Diced Fresh Onions, Homemade Slaw, I’m going to assume either American, Mozzarella, or Nacho Cheese, or Ketchup and Mustard.  I’m still unsure if Ketchup and Mustard counts as two toppings or one, but now that I’ve pointed that minute detail out, it would not surprise me if they said it’s one or the other.

Susan says – Again, Ron needs to READ.  Cheese is not an option for the $1.29 price tag.  Cheese is in the second tier of extras.  Ketchup and mustard are free, so it doesn’t matter if they are one item or two.  Free plus free still equals, you guessed it – FREE.  He’s just being ridiculous here.  And he has so many mispellings in this post, I may not catch them all. 

I also ordered water.  Water is $0.29. Note that’s the 12oz cup, for an extra 4 oz’s it will cost you another dime – that’s right the 16oz cup of standard tap water is $0.39 ~ obviously they didn’t learn their pricing structure from the Bulk Food Store.  I have a policy about paying for water. 

That policy is very simple.

I do not. 

The establishment’s  poor excuse is we have to charge for the cup, the ice, and the lid.  I’m calling shenanigans on that.  Because, yes these may have a cost associated with it, but I seriously doubt this cost is justifiable, next time at at Sam’s Club I’m pricing cups and lids and just see what they charge.

Nevertheless.  I said I do not want it.  Susan went ahead and ordered it.  I did not drink it.

Susan says – First of all, what does “they may have a cost but I doubt the cost is justifiable” mean???  yes, there’s a cost but it’s not really a cost?  There’s a cost but it’s different than what they say? 

Cups, lids and ice DO COST THE RESTAURANT MONEY.  I am an accountant.  I am confident in making that statement.  Places that give you tap water for free cover the cost of the cup, lid, ice and water in another line item.  I think it is clear from reading the menu that Custard Stand likes to account for each and every little thing sepcifically.  I don’t see anything wrong with that.  It’s simply different from the chains like Wendy’s and McD’s.  And I would rather go to a locally-owned place than a chain any day.  Well, unless we’re talking Cheesecake Factory.  Or Cinnabon. 

Ron, you are being utterly ridiculous to expect to get water for free.  You PAY FOR IT every place you go, even if it doesn’t appear as a separate charge on your receipt. 

I will defend Custard Stand on charging a nominal amount for water and I will defend the additional charge on most of the toppings.  but I am going to complain about the soda pricing.

I ordered a large fountain soda for a whopping $1.99.  When I received it, I was sure they had given me the wrong size.  It was small.  With ice, I don’t think a 12-ounce can of pop would have fit in this cup.  I did not have a can of pop so I did not perform the experiment, so don’t hold me to that.   I am simply saying that the cup seemed much too small to be called a large.  I looked at the menu again.  It said “16-ounce” soda.  I know that’s already a crock because the CUP is 16-ounce capacity but after they fill the thing with ice, you don’t get anywhere near 16 ounces of carbonated liquid refreshment.  Chick-Fil-A is really bad about putting a lot of ice in your cup but now that they no longer charge for refills, I feel a little better about that.  It used to be a quarter for a refill, so I would always ask them to go light on the ice.  I gotta have some ice…I am not European for cryin’ out loud.

Anyway, I then look at the cup – the lid says 16-oz.  Harumph.  I would rather they get a bigger cup and charge me more then to serve me this puny one.  If I was ordering to-go, I would have run out of soda halfway through my meal.  Thankfully, though, today I was dining in so I was able to get a free refill.

So how was the hot dog?   It tasted like a hot dog…  Was it worth a $1.29?  WELL I’ve never had a hot dog that’s worth $1 much less one that’s worth a twelve ounce cup of water more.  But I’m biased.   I’m not a hot dog expert…  Check out the hot dog blog for a credible review on the hot dog.

The fries were OK, to be honest, the fries were crispy and not too bad.  If you like french fries and hot dogs you may want to check this place out.

Susan saysFinally, he gets to the food.  My food was enjoyable.  The hot dog was small-calibur just as I prefer and the bun was steamed to the perfect softness.  Fries were the frozen variety but they were served hot and crispy.  I ordered a small for $1.69 and you can see from the photo that they give you a generous portion for that price.  I have no problem with the hot dog pricing, either.  The only way my meal could have been improved is with fresh-cut fries.  But we are talking about hot dogs here…not gourmet food.  For what it was, they did it well.

That being said, those of you that like being nickle and dimed to death may like this place also…  Here’s a quote from their menu: 

 ” We’ll be glad to give you extra for a little extra! “

Please note that on the menu it is written in red and there is an exclamation point at the end.

I’m sorry, their chili is very good, but their stand-alone eateries just suck in my opinion (ok at least the Flatwoods establishment – don’t want to throw them all under the bus).   I won’t eat here again.

ONE FORK        ZEREO FORKS  - note I updated this on December 31st, one of our fabulouse readers made me see the light.      Follow the stream of opinionated comments below for all the intelligent banter.  ~ ron   Oh and Susan also missed a spot where I say something like “…. at at …. ”   two at’s in a row.

Wendy’s wouldn’t have charged me for water,  to be honest, I’m not so sure the Tricky Fish even charges for water…   I’ll have to do some investigating on that.

Susan says -  If I have a hankerin’ for a hot dog while traveling on I-79, he very well may eat here again.  I thought it was just fine. 

The place is small with only a handful of tables but it’s neat and tidy.  The service was adequate, but the feeling that everything, including napkins, salt and ketchup packets, is carefully allocated made me a little uncomfortable. 

It seems to me that they want to sell hot dog chili, so they created a restaurant around that idea.  The menu says the slaw is homemade, but other than that and the chili, I believe every other item on their extensive menu is pre-fabricated.  Our table had 4 different table tents advertising various fried snacks: broccoli and cheese bites, cheese sticks, funnel cake fries and breaded mushrooms.  There are lots of other carnival items to choose from in addition to those.  This is another place where you don’t have to be a cook to operate the restaurant because very little is actually COOKED.  It’s all tossed into the deep-fryer.  Their claim to fame is the hot dog chili and people seem to love it.  You can buy it in bulk at the restaurant and take some home with you, too.

As a restaurant, I rate Custard Stand TWO FORKS

P.S.  Ron did not drink that cup of water I paid $0.29 for.  It rode all the way to Buckhannon and back.  Then I threw it away.

Custard Stand
I-79, Exit 67
Flatwoods, WV
304-765-6500
Custard Stand on Urbanspoon
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26 responses to “They’ll Nickle and Dime Ya – Custard Stand

  1. Please someone tell me if the Tricky Fish charges for tap water….

    please…

    Also I’m waiting on the accountant to total up the overhead on the cup of water.

    I hope she does realize I did check at SAMS Club on the cups that they sell to give me a bench mark for comparison.

    I do not pay for tap water. Yes Susan is correct that I do in essence pay for tap water at places where it is not normally charged for. I do realizes that this minute cost is built into the cost of the other items. Thus making it incidental to the price of my meal.

    Susan mentions in her post that this is a place where you don’t have to be a cook to work in the kitchen. I suspect the same is true on the buisness end of the operation.

  2. Interesting post. Interesting, that is, if you want to see how petty and ignorant people can be. I’m a fan of The Custard Stand, and I get sick of seeing folks take cheap shots with belly-aching about prices, free water and such.

    If you’re going to blog or attempt to review something, do some homework. The Custard Stand restaurants opened first. The chili business grew from numerous customer requests. The history is on their web site (http://www.custardstand.com).

    Next, have you ever owned a business?
    If you have, how often did you give away stuff for free? I’m going to ignore the toppings jab because it’s pretty clear that Custard Stand spells it out on its menu.

    Let’s talk about the charge for water.
    How about setting up a free water stand next to the highway? Oh, wait, you need to buy cups, you need to pay for the water service or buy water, you need to pay employees to serve the water and to deal with the waste, you need to pay taxes, etc. Good thing you’re a generous soul! You can spend all that money just for the sake of giving someone a free cup of water. Really, if you’re that cheap, go put your mouth under the spigot in the restroom.

    The Custard Stand is a business. It is a family-owned and family-operated business that is based in West Virginia, employing West Virginians, paying taxes in West Virginia and promoting West Virginia at every availability.

    I’m proud of them for that. They could just sell the chili and be done with it.

    It seems that people want what you deem “carnival” food or else the restaurants wouldn’t have been in business for nearly a decade, and the owners wouldn’t have successfully expanded in one of the worst economies since the depression.

    Hopefully, the next time you start to “review” an independently owned restaurant or eatery, you will do some homework, and you will consider what it takes to run a business and understand why people have to charge what they do.

    • Rest assured if Ron ever opened a restaurant or business it would fail. I actually had a dream about it. The servers served three different tables the wrong entree salads and he was comping the meals. The pain on his face was classic.

      Susan would be successful, but she is too risk adverse.

      I have run a restaurant that did 1500 transactions a day. You can choose to do a large volume with a small margin or a small volume with a big margin. In the end you will be compared to your competitors and the patron will vote with their dollars.

      I have eaten at the Custard Stand. I have talked to the owner on Twitter and in person. I told her that in my opinion I think the drinks are a poor value. She doesn’t agree and it is her business. She can charge what she wants. The public will ultimately decide if it is right.

      The food speaks for itself.

  3. Before this comment thread goes all Tricky Fish on us, allow me to point out two very important things:

    1. WVHotDogs.com’s Big Daddy gave Custard Stand’s hot dog a Five Weenie (out of five) rating.

    2. Susan misspelled “caliber”.

  4. Diane- I love your suggestion that Ron stick his head under the spigot if he wants what he perceives to be free water. I was ticked that after I paid for it with my own money, he still wouldn’t drink it. I liked the place, I just couldn’t justify three forks shen I compared it to other places we have reviewed. Ron is an idiot about the toppings – he just wants to raise a ruckus.

    Stanton- I linked to your review on the post but did not point out that it was a top rating. At least Ron admitted his review of a hot dog was not credible.

    Most upsetting, though, is my spelling error.

  5. HAPPY FREAKING NEW YEAR

    nobody has said yet if the Tricky Fish charges for water….

    Diane – how many places do you know that Itemize for tap water?

    If you see people taking cheap shots at the prices of the Custard Stand let me ask you a question as it seems that I’m not alone in my opinion.. What’s the common denominator there… various people griping about their prices or the nickle and dime prices ? your words not mine.

    What does “Family Owned” mean? Isn’t that just a noble way of saying “not publicly owned”? After all, are not all places owned or majority owned by someone and their family? Hell you probably own some portion of a restaraunt yourself.

    Basically are you asking me to give a charity fork because their Family Owned and a West Virginia business? Sorry, I’m not going to do that.

    That kind of reminds me of line I heard Mike Ditka say about his QB at the time Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh said that he’d donate $1000 to charity for every interception. Ditka said “That’s pretty noble, but not very smart”.

    You’re basically asking Fork You to skew their ratings to favor a “West Virginia Family Owned Business” are you not?

    I’m simply stating my honest opinion about this crappy place. Go look up Opinion.

    Basically at the end of the day this place sells Hot Dogs and Carny Food.

    I should take my fork back… At least the Tricky Fish puts a little more effort into it.

    That’s it I am taking my fork back. ZERO FORKS.

  6. On Custard Stand’s website it states “Our hot dog chili contains no additives or preservatives and has a recommended shelf life of up to two (2) years frozen and thirty (30) days thawed.” Wow! That’s pretty impressive for a meat product.

  7. “Basically at the end of the day this place sells Hot Dogs and Carny Food. ”

    So why bother reviewing and having long discussions about it? Were they presenting themselves as something else? If not, let em make a living without busting their balls.
    Really, inquiring minds want to know.

  8. demosthenes.or.locke

    And a cold wind blows in hell…. it is beginning to freeze over. I agree with Sagacious.

  9. I wouldn’t know if the Tricky Fish charges for water. I prefer to eat at places where I don’t leave hungry.

    And Ron, “family owned” in this instance means “not owned by some corporate conglomerate headquartered 1500 miles away.” Seriously brah, being intentionally dense does nothing for the HARDCORE! image you’re cultivating.

    That said, there are plenty of multi-million dollar international businesses that are also “family owned.” So it really is kind of a worthless thing to say. Wasn’t Walmart mostly “family owned” for a long time?

    But I think we’re in agreement that we shouldn’t have to grade a place on a curve just because it’s locally owned, or worse yet, because the ingredients were (supposedly) sourced from a mythical organic rainbow farm in Buckhannon. If my food is too expensive and doesn’t taste very good, then none of that stuff matters to me.

  10. My work here is done, Demo and Sagacious have agreed on something.

    I will be moving to the middle east, and begin reviewing Hummus stands, in hopes to bring peace to the Middle East.

    Hippie Killer, you made my point (not that I had one) with the comment about Wal-Mart, and in your closing statement.

    WHAT THE HELL DOES FAMILY OWNED EVEN MATTER???

    Now to pick on Diane one last time… There is Free Water on the Interstates (albeit it’s paid for with taxes in much the same way my free water at Wendy’s is paid for by the cost of the other items on the menu). Every time you flush that toilet at the Rest Area you are using free water. (yes it’s a stretch I know but the connection is there none the less, and I would like to say that there’s a water fountain, but I’m not sure that there is)

    How do you say bacon in jewish or palistinian? (yes I know I didn’t spell that correct)

  11. Charging for water is a pet peeve of mine. Hell, sitting in a chair causes wear and tear and eventually it must be replaced but I would object to be charged extra for a seat. There was once a place downtown (which I won’t name because it went out of business) that tried to charge me the full soda price for a water; I canceled my order and left because it pissed me off too much. I swear I’m not cheap (really, I swear) but that is just not acceptable.

    I’ve never been to the Flatwoods Custard Stand but the original on the hill in Webster Springs (only a walk-up window with an outside picnic table) has excellent dogs .

    If I recall correctly, the current owners bought the place from the original owner (who may have been a relative) and the chili recipe came with the business and it is the new owners who began the offsite retail sales of the chili.

    I like the chili but it needs a shot or two of Tabasco. I bought the store tub once or twice and agree the fresh stuff at the stand is better, but I don’t eat hot dogs at home very often.

    Usually if I do fix up dogs at home I like kosher hot dogs with kraut on a grilled New England style split bun, none of which seem very popular in these parts.

    I do not put slaw on a hot dog. Mayonnaise is even worse than ketchup on a hot dog.

  12. The chili isn’t even that great. It uses dried onions, and what must be the lowest grade of beef they can get away with. There are always discernible chunks of veins and arteries in mine. I know it’s just a hot dog topping, but damn…

  13. I threaten people who do not use Hormel TURKEY Chili. I mean they still probably use processed robo-cut parts, but beef and pig processed parts in my mind are so much worse than turkey.

    I will have to side with Ron this time. I’m not a fan of T&L Hot Dogs in Buckhannon either, for that matter.

  14. Well to begin, the water is not FREE. The establishment has to pay a WATER bill. And the cups are bought in bulk, so there is a charge for them too. It just depends if the restaurant wants to serve FREE water.

  15. That’s true, but it’s also my choice as to whether I want to patronize a place that charges for a paper cup of tap water.

    I’d guess that the nickel for the cup and penny for the water would be a wise thing for the store to want to give away if it costs them 100 or more times as much in gross revenue if I choose not to eat there just once because of the policy.

    If comping six cents worth of water and container gains more $6 purchases it doesn’t take much in the way of a generous spirit for most businessmen to understand why they should want to do that.

  16. well put, Phil.

    Thank You.

  17. So if you can afford six dollars for food, dig a little deeper and find the six cents for the water. I have worked in a food establishment, and I know that the plastic ware, the salt/pepper packets, and the ketchup/mustard packets are bought by the box, but its still a cost to the establishment. So dont be so cheap that you cant pay for a lousy cup of water.

  18. I’ll be as cheap as I want to be.

    I’d suggest that the person being hurt by my cheapness isn’t me. I can still fill my belly at a place that gives me a drink of water, but the place i bypass is out my lunch money.

    I’d also ask why I an being cheaper by refusing to pay 6 cents (which isn’t what the place I mentioned charged btw– it charged the same price as soda ) than the restaurant owner is be refusing to offer 6 cents worth of free “product” to someone spending 100 times that.

  19. It is the same argument both ways:

    Either the establishment is too cheap to provide free water, or the customer is too cheap to pay for water.

    Phil’s right that it’s a shame to lose sales over a lousy cup of water. If a place can do some little things to make customers feel welcome, it’s bound to be a positive impact on the bottom line.

  20. Very well stated Susan.

  21. Well, we ate there yesterday and I had to add my two cents (and not for a cup of water either). I give it 1 fork and that’s only because it earned a half fork for the ice cream and the other half because they don’t allow halves. I ordered a plain hot dog minus a bun for my son and that was the foulest thing I have ever tasted. My own chili dog was served soggy and room temp. Never again. Now I know why everyone there while we were there only ordered soft serve….

  22. First of all, I think that it is never a good business decision openly come out and nickel and dime your customers. I always get a kick out of those places that do, especially restaurants. To charge a quarter extra for this and .50 for that does not increase the profit margin because it is too little to matter anyway. One thing it does accomplish is making the paying customer feel cheated. They feel like you are charging them for things that they are entitled to by buying the main items. The smart thing to do is set the prices originally where those extras are covered on average. The key to the restaurant business is having customers first because without them obviously you wont have to worry about the nickel you gave them in free water. This practice is very short sighted and ignorant on a business standpoint.
    I am not impressed either way by the phrase “family owned business”. I grew up in one and that phrase is kind of a joke. Who cares if it is family owned or not? “Locally Owned” is a more suitable phrase to use. If the product is good, that is all that matters to me.
    As for the Custard Stand Hot Dog Sauce, while not bad at all, is nothing special or spectacular. It is sufficient for it’s purpose which is to be a topping on hot dogs. The only reason that they have done so well with marketing it outside of the restaurant is because they are the only ones doing so with a hot dog chili that is comparable to what is served in a restaurant. The competition is very weak for them. It tastes like spaghetti sauce to me and not hot dog chili. Chili is a mexican dish and should have a “chili flavor” IMO. CS’s does not taste like chili at all. As far as dairy bars etc. go it is not up to par with many others I have had, especially in the Huntington area.

  23. $1.29 for a hotdog? What year was that, 1955? Geez, I can’t wait to stop and have one now just to say I ate a hot dog for under $4. I prefer they charge for add-ons because I only like mustard and chili on mine. Most places charge you for a chili-cheese dog and I have to hold the cheese and whatever else they put on it I don’t eat. I like the system and this place is so freakin’ inexpensive. WOW

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