It's been over a year since Randy Walters, the man behind Pittsburgh Willy's, announced plans to open a freestanding hot dog-centric spot called Pittsburgh Willy's Dog House in downtown Chandler. Walters had every intention of opening at 159 West Commonwealth and has even been paying rent on the space since last October. Unfortunately as of this week, Walters says he is abandoning those plans -- at least for now.
"It just got to the point that it was financially draining me and exhausting me," Walters says. "We decided we're going to let that property go."
The good news is you'll be able to get your Pittsburgh Willy's fix shortly.
See also: 10 Best Hot Dogs in Metro Phoenix
Walters ran Pittsburgh Willy's out of the Merchant Square Antique Mall for five years before closing it to move into the downtown Chandler home. The restaurant was known for its Pittsburgh Steelers decor and selection of hot dogs, sandwiches, chili, and pierogis.
He closed that restaurant earlier this year with the plan to open Pittsburgh Willy's Dog House by February.
But then the opportunity popped up for a space in downtown Chandler, the one that's now home to Walter's ice cream and burger spot, Wimpy's Paradise. Walters wanted it but the previous tenant vacated in June, so he had to move up his plans for the second restaurant and put Pittsburgh Willy's Dog House on the back burner.
A series of health-related personal setbacks combined with the slow summer months contributed to the decision to entirely scratch plans for the hot dog spot.
Instead, Walters plans to satisfy his Pittsburgh Willy's fan base by combining the concept with Wimpy's Paradise. The restaurant, which currently serves a small menu of burgers, sandwiches, and hot dogs, will soon be serving all the Pittsburgh Willy classics.
"We will have the full, or pretty much the full, Pittsburgh Willy's menu soon," Walters says. "I'm really excited."
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Walters says he still hopes to have a free-standing Pittsburgh Willy's restaurant open within the next six to eight months.
Late-night diners looking for chipped ham and other Steel City classics will also be happy to hear that Wimpy's Paradise is now staying open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturdays. Once the Pittsburgh Willy's menu is integrated into the restaurant, it will be the only menu available between 8 p.m. at 2 a.m.
For updates about the Pittsburgh Willy's/Wimpy's Paradise merger keep an eye on the Pittsburgh Willy's Facebook.