Jay Pritchett is another Chicago-to-Nashville transplant. He grew up on the Windy City’s South Side. And while he has been in the South for 20 years (and in Music City for eight) he, too, had problems finding exactly what he wanted when he craved a taste of home. After two years researching and studying (including a class at Vienna Beef’s very niche Hot Dog University), Pritchett launched Jay’s Chicago (878-0264) in March of this year.
“This is the food I grew up on. I want to bring it to people in Nashville,” he says. Because of Nashville’s proximity to Chicago — and plethora of direct flights — there are many former Chicagoans in Music City, as well as Chicagophiles who like to road trip for a ballgame and a hot dog.
Jay’s Chicago brings authentic Chicago-style hot dogs to local farmer’s markets, office parks and events, such as the Cumberland River Dragon Boat Festival and the Nashville Beer Festival. Pritchett posts where his Windy City cart will be on Twitter (@jayschicagotn) and Facebook (facebook.com/jayschicagotn) as well as on a calendar on the website .
He particularly likes working at office buildings and in office parks in the city and in Brentwood/Franklin where he van quickly get customers’ lunch so they can get back to their desks. The cart accepts credit card payment as well as cash.
Pritchett’s cart sells the very essence of Chicago food: Vienna Beef hot dogs ($4), brats and Polish sausage ($6), the iconic Jay’s brand (no relation) potato chips ($1). The dishes are served with the classic Chicago condiments, including celery salt and sport peppers, on a signature S. Rosen poppy seed bun.
The first seven months things have gone well enough that Pritchett sees the possibility of expanding to “promote the whole Chicago image,” meaning thick-crust pizza might be a possibility for expansion.
But there is one non-authentic Chicago concession that Pritchett makes on his menu. He will, when asked, allow customers to put ketchup on a hot dog. “We find that when you are selling a hot dog to a child, you have to have ketchup.”