Hot dogs and history don't normally go together, but they're both the focus of a new restaurant in Old Town Clovis.
California Hot Dogs -- "Cal Dogs" for short -- has opened in the Dewitt Building at 453 Pollasky Ave. in the former Salsa's Cantina, which moved a few doors down to 410 Clovis Ave.
The restaurant serves 20 kinds of hot dogs. There's the Hidalgo dog, served with enchilada sauce and jack cheese and wrapped in a tortilla instead of a bun. And there's the Prospector served with bacon, barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese and crispy onion straws. Most cost $4.95.
There also are baked spuds and mini spuds, similar to Tater Tots.
Each hot dog's name has a connection to California history. The Hidalgo, for instance, refers to the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War in 1848.
The owners are working on a booklet that will explain the names and their ties to history. There's even a mascot, Gus the Gold Miner, who comes out for special events.
"I think it's wonderful for kids to learn history a fun way," says one of the owners, Mary Taliaferro. "I'm hoping they'll learn it through eating hot dogs."
Another unusual twist? The restaurant is run by the same family that has run Serenity Funeral Services in Fresno for 13 years.
"They don't correlate at all," Taliaferro says. "We just happen to be the owner of both."
She and her husband will continue running the funeral home. Their children, Ross and Chris Taliaferro, and their families will run the day-to-day operations of the restaurant.
The concept has worked before. About 27 years ago, Taliaferro and her family opened a restaurant of the same name in the Bay Area. It did so well people asked them to franchise it. But with little babies at home and lots going on at the time, they decided to shelve the project.
"Now my babies have their own babies," she says. "We unshelved it and we put it together this past year."
Believe it or not, I have more hot dog news for you today. Cravings Wood Grilled Burgers N' Dogs has opened a second location, at 4434 W. Shaw Ave., in the Costco shopping center.
Owner Scott Hinman opened his first location at Herndon and Armstrong avenues in Clovis about a year ago.
"The other one was doing real well," he says. "We thought we'd give it a try on the other side of town."
Cravings cooks its hot dogs, burgers and sausages on a wood-fired griddle that burns almond wood, bringing a smoky flavor to the food.
The restaurant has more than 25 toppings, including its most popular, a chipotle mayo that customers slather on hamburgers and hot dogs and dip their sweet potato fries in, he says.
Hinman, a former school vice principal from Southern California, took a gamble last year when he opened the Clovis restaurant. The career change and the move that put his kids closer to family appears to have paid off.
"This stuff could come and go in a flash, but so far it's looking OK," he says. "We're so grateful."
Hot dogs probably will not be served at the historic Bracebridge Dinner in Yosemite National Park. The dinner starts Thursday and runs through Dec. 25.
The show and dinner, in its 86th year, brings Old England to life at the Ahwahnee hotel. More than 60 costumed performers entertain guests at a holiday banquet with Lord Merrick of Bracebridge.
The serving of the seven-course meal is choreographed as part of the show.
Dinner-only tickets start at $299. Several hotel and dinner packages are available.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6431, firstname.lastname@example.org or @BethanyClough on Twitter.