When chef Kris Fuller and her wife Rachel began planning to start a family, Fuller started thinking about Zack’s Hot Dogs, a staple in Burlington, North Carolina for nearly a century. Raised by a single mom in Greensboro, Fuller spent a lot of time with her grandparents. “When Rachel and I started this process, it got me thinking about my childhood and all the things that I loved growing up,” Fuller said. “The treat for me was being able to hang out with the grandparents and go to Zack’s.”
What food traditions would she create? The couple is expecting their first child this summer, and while Greensboro is still home to the iconic old-school ice cream and hot dog spot Yum Yum, many of the places from Fuller’s childhood have since closed. So she decided to build her own.
On April 29, Fuller’s Parkside Pull-Up will open in one of the compact food stands in downtown Greensboro’s LeBauer Park. Fuller — one of the area’s most recognizable and celebrated chefs thanks largely to her Crafted restaurants — describes it as a “modern take” on the old-school soda fountain. Initially, Parkside will be open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner, but Fuller intends to expand hours to serve crowds at the neighboring Tanger Center for the Performing Arts and may eventually open more days.
Customers can expect a range of classic hot dogs — think chili cheese dogs and Chicago dogs — as well as some more creative takes from Fuller. Her team will dress up the chocolate, vanilla, or twist soft serve with a variety of hardening dips and candy toppings. With time, Fuller will add three smash burgers, including a classic Southern style with chili, slaw, and onion and two more inventive riffs. There will be non-dairy ice cream options too, as well as vegan and vegetarian-friendly hot dog offerings. Fuller will start with the basics — making sure Parkside nails its chilis, slaws, and sauces — before expanding the menu.
Parkside Pull-Up’s name describes it well. It’s a walkup window with a handful of colorful tables and folding chairs set up outside. It faces a similar kiosk called Lawn Service, run by the people behind Little Brother Brewing. Lawn Service, which opened less than a year ago, offers Counter Culture Coffee, snacks from Camino Bakery, and a range of craft beer, cider, and wine. Parkside is a natural partner, the only other commercial space within the impressive but petite park just off Greensboro’s main drag. It will primarily cater to park and theater goers, as well as the downtown office lunch crowd.
Fuller rocked Greensboro’s food scene a decade ago when she opened Crafted: the Art of the Taco. Well before taco joints across the country started offering experimental takes with ingredients like mac and cheese, Fuller pushed the bounds of what people thought was possible in the Gate City’s rather sleepy restaurant industry at the time. She quickly outgrew the small Elm Street space and expanded the brand to include Crafted: the Art of Street Food. As a restaurant consultant, she wrote the initial menu at the wildly successful Hops Burger Bar, and later opened Bites & Pints Gastro Pub.
But Fuller began scaling back after her grandfather had an accident, leading her to focus more on family. She closed Street Food and a Winston-Salem expansion of Crafted, and sold Bites & Pints.
“As Rachel and I approached the conversation of having our first child, I wanted to be able to spend more time with our first kid,” Fuller said. “I’m trying to do it right. If I’m running up and down the road between multiple cities, that would be difficult. This was an easy decision to make for my family.”
Parkside is different. It’s less than 1,000 square feet. She can walk there from Crafted’s remaining flagship location downtown, across from its original storefront, and it’s a five-minute drive from her home. She still intends to expand Crafted’s taco concept, but Fuller wants to franchise so someone else runs the daily operations once a location is off the ground. Parkside requires less overhead, and it’s simpler. It promises to still have Fuller’s signature on a range of items, but without the requisite added pressure of a larger sit-down restaurant.
“This whole concept and approach is about having fun and not taking ourselves too seriously,” Fuller said. “We’re just going to be out here slinging hot dogs and ice cream. Hopefully It becomes that staple when people think of their childhood or their family traditions, too.”