An Oldie But a Goodie – Chris’

Susan says…

chris fries

OK, so it doesn’t look like much from the outside.  And the inside is kind of dark.  But it’s one of my favorite places to go for a hot dog and fries. 

I took my Grandpa here once.  We parked in the metered lot across Washington Street.  As we stood on the curb facing the restaurant, Grandpa asked “Where are we going” and when I pointed to the time-worn facade, his skepticism shone on his face.  But it only took one bite to win him over.

Full of vintage charm, Chris’ is a must-visit place in downtown.  They even have one of the old menu boards hanging on the wall.  The antique wooden bar is something to see, too.  

I got my standard: hot dogs and a small basket of real, not faux, homemade fries.  I have never sampled anything else here because I like these selections so much. 

We noticed the ketchup was devoid of a label, but it tasted like the good stuff.  You can see that a small basket of fries for $2.35 is a generous portion for one.  The three in my party shared two baskets among us – it’s part of our dieting plan.  You know, we’re cutting back.  And it’s tough when the fries are this good. 

The hot dogs are just the way I like ’em:  a perfect Utilitarian Dog.  Soft, simple bun…small-calibur weiner, and lots of yummy ketchup – just like the first graders eat their dogs.  Hot dogs are priced at $1.75 each and run $2.35 if you want cheese on that.  (Stanton, I’m interested how you feel about putting cheese on dogs.)  You can read what the Hot Dog Experts think of Chris’ by clicking here to see their review on the WV Hot Dog Blog.

The drinks come in a can, but they give you a cup full of ice.  Even the ice can’t justify the price at $1.40 per 12 oz. can.  Ouch!

At reasonable prices, it’s no wonder this food keeps the locals coming back year after year.  Truly a Charleston institution, Chris’ is a solid THREE FORK lunch!  Click on the thumbnail below for a full-size view of the menu.

chris hot dog

Hot Dog with chili and slaw, a can of Coke, and a cup of ice. We're ready to chow down.


chris cheeseburger

Chris' serves up some good-lookin' burgers too!


Tuesday – Saturday 11 am – 4 pmchris menu
cash only
Washington Street West
Charleston, WV
Chris' on Urbanspoon

23 responses to “An Oldie But a Goodie – Chris’

  1. demosthenes.or.locke

    Susan, where did you grow up, Teay’s Valley or some godforsaken place?

    I never saw or heard of ketchup on a hot dog until I was in the third grade and a kid moved to my elementary school from Ohio who did it. We told on him.

  2. $1.40 for a can of pop is not that bad. Give them a break.

  3. Demo-
    I know it’s practically a crime in this state and Stanton is terribly disappointed in me, but I just don’t like chili. I really can’t stand mayonnaise, so coleslaw is out of the question. Mustard? Only as an ingredient in something else…never alone.

    I will have to ask your forgiveness on this one.

  4. Phil I. Stein

    I’m not a “WV hotdog” man (I don’t like mayonnaise based slaw– especially on a hot dog) and have enjoyed all sorts of topping (chili. mustard, onions, kraut, relish, peppers, cheese) in all sorts of variations and combinations .

    There are three things though that should never be put on a dog and ketchup tops the list. The other two are lettuce and tomatos.

  5. Cheese? Hello, my name is Stanton; have we met?

    Of course if you are going to put ketchup on it, might as well have cheese too. How about some soy sauce and wasabi to top it off?

  6. Stanton – I wouldn’t put cheese on MY hot dog, I was asking because I have seen that offered at other places besides Chris’. It doesn’t mean much coming from a ketchup-lover, but I think cheese on a hot dog is kinda weird.

  7. Phil I. Stein

    I’ll disagree with the cheese. Sharp cheddar on a chili dog or swiss on a kraut dog are both good.

  8. I’m with Susan, bring on the ketchup! My husband is frequently disgusted that I also put ketchup on my bologna and cheese sandwiches. In fact, until I moved to Charleston from wheeling I had never known anyone ate anything besides ketchup on bologna.

  9. $1.40 for a can of pop is borderline rape.

    Sorry but it is.. a 12 pack of (insert favorite sugar laden carbonated non alchohol drink) can easily be had for $5 at retail cost. (and I’m being generous as I’ve never paid that price because it’s always on sale somewhere and I’ve never seen it cost that at SAMS – Sams is about $6 for a 24pack)

    Now let’s think about that…. 12 cans for $5 = $0.4166 per can. hmmmmm

    So basically they’re making $0.98 per can of pop.

    I know there’s other cost associated here, but one has to be realistic. Yes there is a labor cost – lets look at that for one second. The labor cost of taking that can out of the fridge and actually delivering it to the table ~ a whole 20 seconds, (which is probably actually 5 seconds assuming you could carry four cans in one trip but in Susan’s case it would be 10seconds) are minimal.

    The energy associated with the cooler operation – well that is distributed amongst the items that need to be kept cold, etc…

    So the only flaw in my thinking is that it isn’t rape because someone would actually volunteer to pay $1.40 for a drink.

    Now I will reluctantly pay $1 for a can of soda, but a $1.40 is getting close to gouging. They’re only charging that because they can….”not that there’s anything wrong with that”

  10. Hippie Killer

    If you pissed that marking up the pop, wait until you find out how much they’re marking up the food. I mean really. Charging $1.50 for something that actually cost the restaurant 1/3 of that pretty much the going rate. If you want a cheap vat of soda, go to McDonald’s or a damn gas station. I like this blog a lot, but the one thing I can’t get behind is when someone complains about the soda being a whopping 50 cents more than you think it should be. It’s downright petty.

  11. HK-

    Ron did really go off on the soda prices, but I mention it fairly often in my own posts, too.

    Sodas are a profit center for restaurants and they all make money off sodas. How do you make money? By charging more than it costs you. God bless capitalism. And I don’t begrudge anyone the right to make a profit – sell it for what the market will bear!

    When you are given a can of soda, a bottle of soda, or you see them pouring your soda out of a two-liter bottle when the kitchen door swings open, the mystery is gone. Everybody knows how much a can or bottle of soda costs, therefore the markup is obvious. In addition, there ain’t no free refills.

    Personally, I perceive more value in a fountain soda than a can or bottle: 1) it seems to be fizzier, crisper; 2) I can’t get a fountain soda at home. That would be like giving Ron a kegerator at home; 3) it tastes better to me.

    When there is no fountain soda, there is an automatic demerit in my mind. So even though people tell me the cost of fountain soda is even cheaper than bottles or cans (and rightly so, no bottle or can has to be made to contain each serving), I don’t mind paying up to $2 for a soda with free refills.

    Misty & I performed some analysis on this soda issue. We really can’t help ourselves, it’s the accountant oozing out of every pore.

    Talking about a can of soda, Misty frequently purchases Pepsi Cubes for $5, but she said she’s never paid more than $7 retail, and that’s for 24 cans. Divide that out and the retail cost of the can is $0.29. Selling at $1.40, that’s a 383% markup on food cost only. There would be some overhead allocated to the cost of the soda as well.

    South Hills Market & Café serves bottled sodas, 20-oz size, for $1.75. I purchase 1 6-pack per week from the local grocery at an average cost of $2.50 – $2.98 per 6-pack, retail. Let’s go on the high side again with $2.98…divided out that makes the retail cost of one 20-oz bottle $0.50. The markup on this one would be 250%, food cost only.

    If you compare the per-ounce cost between a can and a bottle, the cost per ounce in a can is $0.024 and the cost per ounce from a bottle is $0.025. The per-ounce selling price of the canned soda in this example is $0.12 and the per ounce selling price from the bottle is $0.09.

    I’m glad to see the per-ounce cost of a bottled soda is only very slightly more ($0.001) than a can because I like the bottles much better – no can-taste.

    There’s no good reason why we seem to complain about soda prices other than we just like to bitch and moan. What we really need to do is get off that stuff and drink water.

  12. Okay, since we’re talking sodas here maybe someone can answer this question. Recently on a trip to the SC graziano’s I asked for a to go cup for my soda and was told by the cashier that they didn’t “allow” to go cups with the buffet, only with food orders off the menu. This makes absolutely no sense to me. What could possibly be the reason for this? It seems so stupid! I just wanted to take my diet mountain dew with me after I finished eating!

  13. Hippie Killer

    3x is the pretty much the standard mark-up in the restaurant business.

  14. Tara –

    Good question. That indeed makes no sense. Maybe that person was confused and was thinking to go BOX instead of to go CUP. Refills are free whether you order the buffet or off the menu.

    And thanks for the support on my love of Heinz!

  15. HK-

    sounds like shm&c needs to raise the price of their bottled sodas.

  16. No prob! My little bro and I share an affinity for the red stuff except he takes it much further than me, dipping fruit like raisins and bananas in it and smothering his bologna sandwiches in it until it squirts out the side!

  17. I’ll go a different rout with the soda. If your counting calories and cutting back, soda should be aced from your diet.

    I like ketchup, but no way will I ever eat it on my hot dogs. A good dog should be good on it’s own, with nothing else added. When in the mood, I do add mustard and onions.

  18. Okay, here’s all the math you need food costs:

    The target food cost percentage for a restaurant is around 33%. Some places shoot for a little lower, others a wee higher, but 1/3 is right in the wheelhouse. Now, using the $0.4166 per can actual cost to the retailer/restaurantuer cited above and dividing by 0.33 we get $1.26 per can. Looks like Chris’s is going the lower FC route, by about 2%.

    So, the contribution margin on a can of Coke at C’s is a little less than a dollar. Seven cans of coke sold per hour pays for the wages of ONE employee at minimum wage. Add in Social security, Medicaid/Medicare, unemployment and other misc employee expenses…lets call it 9 cans of soda needed each hour, just to pay the ONE employee. Multiply by number of employees and that’s the number of cans needed per hour to pay for the staff. soda sales subsidize the rest of the menu in just about every restaurant in the business.

    I’m with HK. Love the blog but the jihad-esque rhetoric about soft drink prices gets old.

    And chili, onions, and just a small line of ketchup is my dog dressing of choice. Chris’s does it as well as is done here in WV.

  19. Rob,

    You make an excellent point about the soda costs, necessary to run a restaurant, and it makes perfect sense….

    …. if you’re only selling sodas.

    My Soda Jihad has just begun.

  20. No one is forcing you to buy the soda.

    I sound like a broken record, but I’ll say it again: “I nobody is complaining about the price then you’re not charging enough”

  21. There’s a difference between charging enough and gouging.

    And I normally choose water.

    (btw Grazianno’s Teays Valley charges for water)

  22. I was gonna say, I don’t know why Ron seems so passionate about the soda pricing issue when he rarely ever orders a soda.

    But now that he knows it can fuel debate, I am afraid he’ll have even more to say about it.

  23. Love Chris’ but it’s been awhile. Now about the cheese on hotdog business. I’ve done this before (with American cheese, nacho cheese sauce and Cheddar) and I’m not ashamed of it. I also like just ketchup on hotdogs and I’m a big fan of the WV Hotdog (minus onion ’cause I don’t do onions.) At some ballparks, I like just the weiner on the bun if it’s a nice all-beef weiner. Heck, I’ve even eaten just slaw on dogs before. However, I’m not a big fan of a plain chili dog. But don’t get me wrong, I’d eat one like that if I had to.

    Yesterday I was in Cincinnati and stopped at Gold Star Chili. I love the Cincinnati-style chili with it’s little bit of cinnamon (if that’s what it is) and I love the shredded cheddar piled on top. Yum!!!! The more cheese the better for me.

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