On Tuesdays, they come.
From nearby neighborhoods, across town, even from places as far-flung as Summerfield. They come in droves to Hinshaw United Methodist Church on Gate City Boulevard for hot dogs.
Forget taco Tuesday, for these “hot dog connoisseurs” — as Hinshaw’s program director, Jim Waynick, affectionately calls his regulars — this day has gone completely to the dogs.
Hinshaw United Methodist first started selling hot dogs in its fellowship hall in 2013. Equipped with a health department-certified kitchen, the church cranks out hundreds of dogs each week, Jan. 15 through Nov. 15 (taking two months off for the holidays). Proceeds from hot dog (along with chips, canned drinks and homemade dessert) sales benefit the church’s missions programs.
But what makes these dogs different?
Waynick says the secret’s in what they serve on the side.
“I visited places across North Carolina that serve hot dogs, and I saw they all offer one of two things — either great-tasting hot dogs or good fellowship,” he says. “We like to think we have both here.”
Throughout the two hours they serve — 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — the big, round tables in the fellowship hall stay mostly full of folks who range in age and diversity from neighborhood kids to Greensboro police officers to elderly members of the church. Old friends catch up, and new friends engage in polite conversation, usually fueled by a mutual appreciation of hot dogs.
“It’s like we have two churches — we have the Sunday-morning congregation, and on Tuesday it’s a community of people from all walks of life and denominations,” says Rev. Tom Jolly, pastor of Hinshaw United Methodist. “There’s a sense of unity and faith in the place. I get to see Jesus in a different way in the faces of these folks.”
Back in the kitchen, nearly a dozen volunteers work the hot dog-making line, churning out all-the-way dogs (mustard, chili, coleslaw and onions), as well as special orders. One regular even gets his completely charred black — “He’s from New York,” the guy manning the buns offers by way of explanation.
Waynick makes the chili himself fresh every week, and like any chili worth a dang, the recipe is top secret.
That chili is one of the reasons Gale Vitamvas and her father, Wayne Wall, come back each week. And knowing their money benefits a good cause makes these hot dogs a little better than the rest.
“I enjoy coming; I bring my dad, and we have a good time,” she says. “I like what they do with the money and how they use it in service to others.”