RFT Asks: 5 Questions for 'Hot Dog Picasso' Larry Lunceford

Larry Lunceford, owner of Grove Dawgs, has been serving up hot dogs since 2008

click to enlarge Larry Lunceford leans in front of his hot dog cart. He holds a palette in one hand with mustard, ketchup, pickles and more. In his other hand, he holds a paintbrush. In front of him is food on a grill, including long hot dogs, short dogs and burgers. He's standing in a parking lot.
BENJAMIN SIMON
Larry Lunceford of Grove Dawgs at his hot dog cart in the Lowe's parking lot in Carondelet.

If you've ever shopped at Lowe's or partied in the Grove, you've definitely seen him. He's the man out there, grilling hot dogs, serving up a quick lunch or a late-night snack. His name is Larry Lunceford, a 52-year-old St. Louis native and owner/operator of Grove Dawgs. Lunceford has been serving up hot dogs all across the city since 2008. We caught up with Lunceford to learn more about him and his hot dogs:

You say that you design hot dogs. What does that mean?

I've got a hot dog called the Homewrecker. I'm the only one that sells the Homewrecker. It's an 18-inch, all-beef hot dog. You say you want mustard, relish, onions, barbecue sauce, jalapeño –– whatever you want [goes] on it. When I give it to you, the presentation will be so beautiful. It's like art. Hot-dog Picasso.

How'd you get started doing the Homewrecker?

A lot of vendors I know in St. Louis, they pretty much just have like the bun-length hot dog. But I have the Homewrecker. And I've got the buns to match.

Where did you get 18-inch buns?

I can't tell you that. I got two sleeves with a trick up each one [laughs].

Why hot dogs?

It's not necessarily the hot dogs, it's the people. I like to invest in people. I just use hot dogs as the tool to do that.

I don't know if you've ever been out on the Grove at night, but I have this rule. There's a certain crack in the concrete on both sides of the pull cart –– it's like, no matter what you went through this week, when you get between those two cracks, just for that one little moment, you're gonna walk away happy. You're in the hot-dog zone. You're gonna hear some music, have some good food, probably with your friends.

I just talked to someone the other night, she met her [fiancé] at the hot-dog stand. This happens all the time.

What do you do for fun outside of making hot dogs?

Well, that — that is fun. You know what I mean?

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