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the Weiner Wonderland part of the menu includes the Reuben Dog, the Stray Dog (veggie) and the Pinky Dog — topped with pimento cheese and chili. Fried is not a bad word around here, as guests can find waffle fries, fried pickles and other delicacies. When it comes to desserts, homemade banana pudding made from Auten’s grandmother’s recipe tops the list. Judy Sigmon, owner of Homemade Southern Sweets, provides many of the other desserts on the menu. From the bar, guests can expect 2-ounce pours. Non-alcohol drinks include fresh ginger limeade, cherry limeade, Dr. Brown’s root beer, regular and spicy Blenheim Ginger Ale, and pink lemonade, as well as more standard sodas, Novus hot tea and bottomless Rainforest Blend coffee.

Delicious diversity Auten first learned about food standing by his father’s side at the Mecklenburg County fairgrounds making barbecue. “I can remember barely being able to reach the flattop [grill], but that, I think, instilled in me that I could do this for a living and

While the food is a major draw, the owners also know they must create a distinctive mood. “People want to push the boundaries just a bit, with a little edginess and interest,” Rhames says. “When they go out to eat, they want a little more than just the food. You have to have the experience.” Cauble and his wife tracked down paintings and other decorations that matched the funky feel of the space. They hung huge red, round lanterns from the ceiling to help the space feel smaller. The team will spend the first few weeks gauging the aspects that can be translated from the Morehead Street location to the lake. For the new restaurant to repeat the success of the first Pinky’s, consistency will prove key, say the owners. Consistent, yes. Predictable and boring — never!

The banana pudding is made from co-owner Greg Auten's grandmother's recipe.

that it might be pretty cool,” Auten recalls. Each of the four partners boasts diverse restaurant and bar experience that adds to the strength of the team. “It’s a mish mash of all of us,” Auten says. “I spent a lot of years in fine dining. I worked in fast food, and I owned a hotdog cart uptown.” During his days at The Penguin Drive-in, Auten appeared on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and has stayed connected with the show’s host, Guy Fieri.

He has the courage to explore new opportunties.

THE SCOOP Pinky’s Westside Grill 9818 Gilead Road, Suite B101 Huntersville 704.727.0142 Hours: Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun noon-10 p.m.

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