Shorty’s Famous Hot Dogs

Dog Gone Good
Shorty’s Famous Hot Dogs

by Jessie Ammons
photograph courtesy Wake Forest Historical Museum

Walking into Shorty’s Famous Hot Dogs in downtown Wake Forest is like stepping back in time, and that’s why people love it. The no-frills joint is still in the same location in which it opened in 1916, originally as a “picture house” (aka movie theater). To appease moviegoers’ appetites, founder H.E. Joyner offered hearty snacks; then, to compete with another local theater, he added pool tables and a lunch counter. Today, the movie screen is long gone, but the pool tables and “Southern style” red hot dogs remain. So, too, do the Joyners: Chris Joyner is the fourth generation family member to operate the restaurant, which he co-owns with his dad, Bill. Prices have increased from the original lunch menu, pictured above and hanging in the restaurant today, but it’s still a deal. For $2.40, you can get that famous hot dog, complete with mustard, onions, and chili. There are are also other options: breakfast sandwiches, Campbell’s soups served with crackers, and fresh squeezed lemonade. The latter is best ordered as an Arnold Palmer – half lemonade and half iced tea – especially since the golf champion himself was supposedly a regular at Shorty’s during his college years. Some of the rest of us have a several-decades streak going.

214 S. White St.; Wake Forest