Fat One's, an idea he envisioned from paper to plate, is set to open this Saturday, Sept. 10, in the Florida Mall. The establishment will serve hot dogs in different arrangements, similar to Nathan's, as well as Italian ice for those who need/crave dessert with their lunch. To find out what turned this one-time all-American poster boy into a connoisseur of the all-American snack, we sat down with him for a quick, and even a little funny, phone interview.
Orlando Weekly: A lot of us are wondering, Joey, how exactly does someone like you break into the business of encased meats?
Well, the whole thing came from starting to do a bunch of stuff with the Food Network. I always wanted to do something of my own. You get older and start thinking about things you have a passion for and that definitely interest you – food definitely interests me. The cool thing about it is, it kind of came up organically, growing up in Brooklyn, going to Coney Island, going to Nathan’s and getting Italian Ice. I went to Lollapalooza and saw this place called Chubby Weiner's and it was very cool and very funny, and I thought, "I want to franchise that!" I wanted to learn about numbers, and when I did I thought it was too much to franchise, so I thought, "Why not do your own and call it Fat One's?"
For me, it’s like, I wanna know and be hands-on. With the team of people that we have, we’ve been doing tastings, choosing the decor, picking out the actual logo, getting the equipment. We started looking around and we found a place in the Florida Mall. I was 13 when I moved here and started going to Dr. Phillips High. I’d go to the mall and hang out, so it’s kind of cool that I get to hang out where I was when I was a kid, and we’re excited we’re gonna open up on Saturday. If I wasn’t having fun with this, I’d say screw it, but I’ve been having a blast.
How will Fat Ones contribute to the Orlando dining scene?
Just a lot of fun. People kind of eat with their eyes. You want something that’s fun and obviously good. It’s 100 percent beef, there’s no by-products in it. What we do is butterfly the hot dogs, and it helps with the toppings so nothing is spilling over. Our Italian ice is ridiculous just because of the flavors. It just is what it is, I’ll just let the food speak for itself basically. You get celebrities that slap their name on something and don’t know about it. I’ve gotten so many offers to do different things, and there’s no point in it if it’s something you don’t stand behind. For me, the hot dog itself has no repeat, you don’t taste it after four hours.
We’re at a kiosk, the Florida Mall is a fun atmosphere. There are so many tourists that come here, I think it’s basically the best place to have it here. With the exception of Nathan’s, you don’t see something like that. You don’t hear that very often. Rest assured, you’ll surely see me there sometimes. It was really funny, they were making sure I wasn’t there so often until it was open, but I kept checking things and making sure, "Did it work out great? Did the right people come in?"
Do you have any plans to open another one?
You don’t wanna go out guns a-blazing and have it tank. Why do that when you can start something small? I live here, I’m a hands-on kind of person. If we do franchise, I want to make sure the product stays the same throughout. I fear that when you go out to some franchises, the product falls off a little bit. We’re getting calls about franchising. How can we franchise when we don’t even know the numbers?
Lance Bass tweeted something very funny, calling your restaurant "the perfect amount of wrong." Is the name of the kiosk a way of getting back at all those unfair weight jabs you've endured throughout they years?
It’s so funny, you gotta make fun of yourself. It’s just the way it is. I’ve always been called the "fat one," it’s part of my last name. I was ridiculously skinny in school and pretty much all of my life. With the hot dog itself, it’s a very catchy and very fun name. It can mean many things to people, you can use your imagination.
Speaking of Lance, I know the 'N Sync crew reunited for JC Chasez's 40th birthday last month in West Hollywood. What have your former bandmates had to say about your new business?
They thought it was a good idea! They loved the idea. It’s crazy because I was like, "I don't know if people will like it." But all of a sudden everyone was all aboard and loved that I’m taking a spin on my name and having fun with it. They knew exactly what I was doing.
Last, for those planning on checking the place out this week, what's Joey Fatone's favorite menu item at Fat One's?
It’s actually hard to say! I like spicy stuff, so I have one actually called "The Hot Dog," which has sriracha-pepperjack cheese and sriracha sauce on it, which I think is actually great. The Reuben and the Cuban I hope will stand out. We actually press the hot dog and the bun itself. Not only are you getting the crunch, but you’re getting it on the hot dog, as well. And the Reuben’s awesome, it’s like a sandwich, but it’s a hot dog. But, if you just wanna order a regular hot dog with sauerkraut, you can order a "To N.Y." We also have five hot dogs you can order together, that’s actually called a "Boybander."
'N Sync alum and Orlando resident Joey Fatone is getting ready for his next big adventure: tube steaks.