Foot-long hot dogs topped with mustard, onions, chili, and slaw … beautiful, giant-size hamburgers dressed to the hilt with cheese fries and battered onion rings on the side … hand-chopped barbecue sandwiches decorated with slaw: Put these menu items together with a brash, drive-through (and dine-in) operation, and you have a truly all-American eatery. Jay Bee’s feels like fast food squared, and yet signs throughout the sprawling establishment warn that because everything is made to order, some items will require a wait.
In this place, a “wait” means about three minutes before your number is called over the loud speaker system, meaning your tray is ready to be toted to a table inside or on the patio out back (known as Jay-Bee’s Outback). At peak mealtimes, the big wait is the long line of cars at the drive-through window, where Iredell County natives come to buy a quick dashboard lunch or a party meal for twelve people.
Hot dog highlights range from the wonderfully simple foot-long with cheese (and, of course, chili and slaw) to such specialties as the Prairie Dog with dark-hued barbecue sauce, cheese, and onions and the “Northerners’ Fancy” Kraut Dog with sauerkraut and mustard. There are all-beef dogs which, although delicious, seem out-of-context here in pork country, and ninety-nine cent corn dogs for kids.
Although Jay-Bee’s pride is hot dogs, hamburgers are very impressive. Available in quarter-pound or half-pound configurations, they are hand-formed from daily-ground beef and sizzled to appealing succulence, particularly good when dressed with a heap of sauteed onions.
The beverage menu ranges from sweet tea and milk shakes to Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew; and if you dine inside, a refill of any soda is free. One quart size drinks – yes, thirty-two ounces – are available at the drive-through window.