The brothers behind Fatdogs, the hot dog stand known for its two-pound, 18-inch Sonoran hot dog, closed shop in the Tucson Mall Sunday night in a dispute with mall management over their menu.
Omar Quijada said mall management insisted that he and his brother Jose eliminate grilled chicken and carne asada from their menu because it conflicted with offerings at Chipotle Mexican Grill, also in the food court of the mall at 4500 N. Oracle Road. Fatdogs added the grilled beef and chicken items three months ago to boost lagging sales.
“We were making good money, but once we changed the menu we started doing really good,” Omar Quijada said. Removing the items would have devastated their bottom line, he added.
Mall officials in a written statement on Monday said they could not comment “on the terms surrounding a tenant’s lease.”
The Quijada brothers traded their 2-year-old Sonoran hot dog food cart for the mall space in September 2012 after building a loyal following for their signature Ultimate Fatdog. Omar Quijada said the brothers put $76,000 into the mall space during their run and were barely making enough money to keep the doors open. As of Sunday, they owed two months’ rent.
“We were just pretty much breaking even, paying the employees and the rent,” he said. “We were working for free pretty much.”
Quijada said he had hoped to fully catch up with the holiday shopping season. But “the season wasn’t even half of what we did last year,” he said.
“If we would have made what we made last year, it would have been awesome,” he said.
Quijada said he and his brother are looking for a new location to relaunch Fatdogs. He saidd he would like to remain near the mall or on the northwest side.