But David Caccavo, owner of Diego’s Dogs and Sliders at 4150 Mission Blvd. #113 in the Promenade at Pacific Beach Shopping Center, doesn’t question fate. He revels in it.
Getting into the restaurant business in San Diego was a risky proposition. Especially given that Caccavo had no previous experience whatsoever.
“I finished building a house for my brother and I thought I might as well stay and do something here,” he said. “I’ve never worked for anybody, and I didn’t want to work for anybody.”
A hard worker, Caccavo bent himself to the task of finding the right bar-restaurant to put his mark on. But the search proved tougher than expected.
“Some of the ones for sale were really dumpy and needed to be all redone,” Caccavo said, who conducted a thorough search before he finally happened on his current space in the promenade, which was “clean and built-out already.” The space, just around the corner from Tony Roma’s, had previously been, among other things, a submarine sandwich shop.
Caccavo’s decision on what kind of food to serve in his new restaurant was just as spontaneous as his decision to move out to the West Coast.
“When I came out here, food seemed pretty bland compared to what I was used to,” he said. “I went to get a hot dog, but I couldn’t find a place I liked. They were all hot-dog-on-a-stick or hot-dog stands. They were horrible.”
So what Pacific Beach really needed, Caccavo determined, was a gourmet hot-dog place like the ones they have back east.
Now, for the name of this new East Coast-like gourmet hot-dog spot. Diego became the name, but it had nothing to do whatsoever with San Diego.
“We named our dog Diego in New Jersey and then we ended up here, so the kids named the restaurant Diego’s Dogs,” said Caccavo, noting the name seemed fitting, if somewhat ironic.
Now a picture of Diego, the Caccavo’s 110-pound Rottweiler mix, hangs in Diego’s Dogs.
Caccavo promises you won’t find a better — or more custom-made — hot dog anywhere else in PB.
“I have a Chicago-style dog, a Sonoran dog and a PB fried dog, which has bacon wrapped around it with chili, coleslaw and jalapeño peppers,” he said, adding bland is now blasé.
Gourmet dogs at Diego’s range from $4.50 to $7.
And what are hot dogs without hamburgers? Not just any hamburgers though, but sliders, created custom, of course, à la Caccavo.
“The sliders are little 2-ounce burgers,” he said. “It’s all fresh meat. All certified Angus.”
Sliders, which cost $3 for a single, $5.75 for a duo and $8.50 for a trio, are served up in classic (sautéed onions and cheddar cheese), red rock (bacon, crispy fried onions and secret sauce), gobbler (turkey with portabella mushrooms) and spicy Mexi (vegetarian black beans, spices and cheddar) varieties.
“People like to mix and match, have a classic with a red rock and a gobbler,” Caccavo said, adding his rosemary fries with garlic and sea salt, as well as his Jersey disco fries — steak fries with melted mozzarella cheese and gravy — are both crowd pleasers.
For more information, call (858) 581-3647 or visit www.diegosdogs.com.