PANAMA CITY BEACH — Steve and Sylvia Byron are serving a simple menu of hot dogs, brisket and barbecue — all in craveable combinations — at Charlie Graingers in Panama City Beach.

“There are no fryers, no freezers, no grease — and that appeals to us,” Sylvia said.

The couple opened Charlie Graingers, 13312 Front Beach Road, on June 14, after three months of cleaning and remodeling — including new siding, roof, air conditioning and countertops.

“This was an old building that needed a lot of work. It probably looks better now than it’s ever looked,” Sylvia admitted. “We have 10 barstools and eight tables outside — at least 32 seats outside.”

Charlie Graingers’ signature custom made stools are mounted into the floor.

“The stools spin; kids love to do this,” Sylvia said, as she demonstrated. Then Steve added, “and so do adults!”

The grand opening celebration is today, beginning with a ribbon cutting with the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce at 10 a.m.

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Charlie Graingers uses Kahn's premium hot dogs. 

Contributed photo

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Charlie Graingers is located at 13312 Front Beach Road with a view of the Gulf from inside and out. 

JAN WADDY | The News Herald

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Sylvia and Steve Byron opened the Charlie Graingers in Panama City Beach on June 14 and are celebrating the Grand Opening on June 24. 

JAN WADDY | The News Herald

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Charlie Graingers' Beef Brisket Sandwich is served with a side of BBQ Baked Beans. 

JAN WADDY | The News Herald

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Charlie Graingers uses Kahn's premium hot dogs. 

Contributed photo

1/4HIDE CAPTION

Charlie Graingers is located at 13312 Front Beach Road with a view of the Gulf from inside and out. 

JAN WADDY | The News Herald

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“(Classic Rock) 95.9 will be here from 11 to 2 passing out hats, koozies, sunglasses, refrigerator magnets,” Sylvia said.

All of the menu items, including gumbo, will be available.

On Tuesday, I ordered a Brisket Combo — a Beef Brisket Sandwich with BBQ baked beans subbed for chips and a pink lemonade to drink.

“We make the pink lemonade fresh here every day,” Sylvia said. “It’s a combination of five different ingredients. It’s been really popular; sometimes we make it twice a day.”

I usually don’t like baked beans, but these were good — slightly sweet with nice fresh addition of bell pepper and brisket, of course.

Brisket Sandwich starts with tender brisket, housemade BBQ sauce, creamy housemade coleslaw, Charlie’s Spicy Pickles and a pickled okra — all on a Johnsonville sausage roll.

CHARLIE GRAINGERS

What: Hot dogs, brisket and barbecue

 

Where: 13312 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach

 

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

 

Details: 910-228-1995, Facebook: Charlie Graingers Panama City Beach or CharlieGraingers.com

The sandwich was just as beautiful in person as the promotional pictures I had seen, and I had to use a fork and knife to get all the toppings in one bite. The coleslaw was slightly peppery, the pickles were just spicy enough to cut the sweetness and the barbecue sauce reminded me of some I had in Texas last week.

And if you don’t want it on a roll, you can get any sandwich in a bowl.

“The brisket is one of my favorites,” Sylvia admitted. “I usually get that and a 4-ounce side of baked beans. I’m not a big bread person so I just eat it plain or top it with melted pimento cheese.”

The counter also has a choice of hot sauce, as well as plenty of napkins I put to good use. I sipped on the refreshingly sweet lemonade and looked out at the Gulf, where the water faded from turquoise to dark blue between the palm trees.

Sylvia first fell in love with this area nearly a decade ago, when she came to see a friend for a visit.

“I have had a house in St. Andrews for nine years. I love the area and saw the potential,” she said. “From my house, you can see the bay. And I love the Gulf.”

But it took Sylvia and Steve, who have been married almost five years, a while to get this view.

“We had been back two or three times to visit,” Sylvia said. “We knew we wanted to move back here and do something.”

The couple relocated from Nashville, Tenn., where Steve was a video engineer and Sylvia was in property management.

“We had great jobs, but we didn’t see each other a lot,” Sylvia said.

Then one day, they both ran across a Charlie Graingers ad and sent it to each other.

“It’s just interesting food combinations. When I tried it, I said, ‘Where do I sign?’ My dad always wanted to sell hot dogs. It would make my dad proud,” said Steve, who grew up in Chicago with “hot dogs on every corner. They even let me name one after my dad — The Burt, with mustard and ketchup.”

Steve pointed to his dad’s name on the menu, and then to the black and white picture — his dad standing next to a younger version of himself on a tricycle — hanging on the wall by the front door.

“I get to look at him every day and at the beach,” Steve said.

Surprisingly, Steve always preferred his Chicago dogs plain, but Charlie Graingers has its own version of a Chicago dog.

“Cook County has sport peppers and Jamaican instead of green relish. There’s no celery salt on it, but we put it on the tables,” Steve said. “People just like variety.”

The Cook County signature dog also is topped with mustard, onions, tomatoes and Charlie’s Spicy Pickles.

The Jamaican relish is red relish with watermelon and peppers — “sweet and tangy,” Steve said. “We use Kahn’s dogs. Ours are fresh, never frozen, with no sulfites or nitrates; that’s why they’re not red.”

With 15 signature dogs, there is one for everybody.

“Hot dogs are served in split-top buns, so when it’s topped, it doesn’t fall apart,” Sylvia said.

Right now, the Panama City Beach restaurant sells about 50-60 hot dogs a days, but the original Wilmington, N.C., sells 200 a day or more.

The franchise is a revamp of the original Peacock Alley restaurant in Wilmington, N.C., founded by Charlie Grainger in 1939. Louis North purchased the site of the dilapidated restaurant in 2012 and rebuilt it with its former heritage but added a few more classics — brisket, barbecue and chicken salad to go with the homemade soups and sides.

“The turkey salad is fantastic, just a different name,” Sylvia said. “It’s even more moist than chicken salad, and our pimento cheese has a spice to it.”

The franchise is continuing its expansion in the Florida Panhandle, with franchisees Trent and Nancee Moore opening a Destin location later this summer.

“I put the brisket in when I leave at night; it cooks 14 hours here. It just falls apart,” said Steve, who has been making two to three a day. “When we get in at 8, we get everything prepped. I do the brisket and pork.”

“And I’ll make the fresh cole slaw,” Sylvia said. “People come in and buy the brisket by the pound, and then get baked beans to have a meal at home.”

On Tuesday during lunch, employee Chris Moran cut some of the 8-pound brisket and then stuffed as much as he could into the bun for a customer’s Beef Brisket Sandwich.

“We take what’s left and put it in our beans,” Steve said. “By the end of the day, it’s more brisket than beans.”

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