Red’s hot dog stand thinks outside the bun
At Red's Roadside Attraction, after you eat a tilapia taco, a basic hot dog or the varied other items on the menu, you may want to take home your seat or bistro table, along with your doggie bag. The furniture and vintage trays are for sale from the neighboring Marvin Gardens at 713 Danbury Road, which is stocked with garden sculptures, furnishings and gardening containers of every kind imaginable — including antique fountains overflowing with flowers.
"Red's is an extension of Marvin Gardens," said Amabel Chan, who owns both places. Parked in front is a cherry-red antique truck, which is in the inspiration for the eatery's name, according to Ms. Chan. Folk art roosters perch on the roof of the roadside stand, and lemon trees in planters sit on the counter of the former Dexter's Dog House.
However, Ms. Chan has added her own twist to the staples usually on tap at a hot dog stand. Along with the dogs and angus burgers and fries, pulled smoked pork tacos and marinated hangar steak tacos are available, and black beans and rice and homemade chili, among many other items. Dessert is homemade New Orleans bread pudding, with Maker's Mark Whiskey. "Everything is homemade and fresh, with no preservatives," she said.
A native of Houston, Ms. Chan offers the flavors and dishes of her home. "Eventually I want to serve po' boys with fried oysters and jambalaya," she said.
One of outdoor dining patios is decorated with a "1920's German garden set," and the pieces are all for sale. Completing the decor is an antique European glass mirror, and the enclave overlooks neighboring Marvin Gardens, with its international collection of garden design elements from throughout the world, including Mexican folk art lobsters, cast iron urns, chandeliers and an assortment of garden containers created from Argentinean balconies — and just about anything else.
"If it's a vessel, I consider it a planter," said Ms. Chan, a Weston resident and mother of four. She has been operating Marvin Gardens, the former site of Scribner's Fruit Stand, for 18 years.
"It's kitschy and eccentric," she said, and the same qualities will apply to her new roadside stand.
Ms. Chan said she may also add homemade tortilla soup to the menu, which she once sold at school fund-raisers for her children, and then as part of a small cottage business.
She hopes to add live music to the ambiance, and perhaps also free workshops where artists, musicians and writers can teach their crafts, she said. "I have been very fortunate and I want to give back," Ms. Chan said. "We are also going to support local charities."
How long will they stay open?
"There is no heat inside Red's," she said. "But we will stay open until the pipes freeze."
Business has been going well, she said. "We've had a lot of customers and even some regulars now, even though we only opened a few weeks ago."
For the transplanted Texan, launching the eatery has re-connected her with her childhood. "When I was a kid, I always wanted to run a weenie wagon on Galveston Beach," Ms. Chan said.