New deli re-creates classic chili dog

It's inspired by the Original Smoky Mountain Market which opened in 1936 and went out of business in the early 1980s.

A South Knoxville business is the site of a chili dog revival.

"The most common way that somebody orders a hot dog is what we call all the way and that's chili, mustard and onion," Jonathon Trotter said.

And sometimes mayonnaise.

It's inspired by the original Smoky Mountain Market which opened in 1936, became a chain and then went out of business in the early 1980s. But the memory of its iconic chili dogs lives on.

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"My great grandmother actually ate there, that's how far it dates back," he said.

Trotter is reviving the classic Smoky Mountain hot dog at the Smoky Mountain Deli. It's next door to the empty Smoky Mountain Market building, just south of the Henley Bridge, tucked inside the Speedmart Gas Station.

"I'm right next door. That's how a lot of people ask me where I'm at and I just say right next to the Old Smoky Mountain Market and they know exactly where I am," he said. "Once they find me, everybody comes to be my repeat customer."

Customers wind through the Speedmart convenience store to the deli in the back.

"First time I'm going to try them out see how they go. Supposed to be like the oldies from Smoky Mountain," customer Ross Cagle said.

Trotter won't reveal any secret ingredients, but he's very open about the use of a steamer.

"Everything gets steamed around here. Hoagies are steamed. Hot dog buns are steamed. Not many place steam buns anymore to bring back that taste in a hot dog," he said.

Trotter is keeping the menu simple and cheap. Ten dogs for $10.

"I offer just a small menu, something that somebody can eat here five days a week and not eat the same thing twice," he said. "I sell on average between 200 to 300 hotdogs a day out of here. Out of this little hole."

The little deli has big goals.

"There's a sign next door to Smoky Mountain Market over 1 million hotdogs sold, so one of these days I'll end up having that sign over here with over 1 million hotdogs sold," he said.

At 300 a day that's going to take about nine years.

But he's sure he can cut the mustard with his classic Smoky Mountain chili dog.

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The deli is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day except Sunday, when it's open from noon to 6 p.m.