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These hotdogs are a labour of love

John Meier's food cart at the Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall has developed a following

The stream of customers is a slow but consistent trickle as John Meier begins the first shift of his weekly four-day stint at Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall.

It's a warm, sunny day and as the lunch hour approaches a line of customers begins to form.

Myrtle's Famous Hot Dogs celebrated its first anniversary at the beginning of June and in the last twelve months the little hotdog cart has developed a bit of a cult following.

One customer, who wished to remain nameless, said he visits the cart two to three times a week.

"I'll swing in out of my way," he said.

"I don't wait in line but I'll wait in line here."

Meier said he has customers who drive in from Vancouver and other parts of the Lower Mainland just for one of his hotdogs.

The menu is simple - hotdogs and drinks. There are three types of hotdogs - all beef, turkey, which is lower in sodium, and a veggie dog, which is vegan - and the usual toppings. And then there are the specialty dogs - Chicago-style, New York-style and a chili dog.

Meier said when he started Myrtle's he wasn't interested in doing anything fancy.

"A lot of places are doing a fusion thing now," he said, throwing another bun on the grill. "I'm doing the complete opposite. I'm doing the classics... I want to do the classics really, really well."

From the beginning, Meier's goal, he said, has been to make the best hotdogs anyone has ever tasted.

"I guarantee people the best hotdog they've ever had in their life or they get their money back," he said, adding that in 12 months he's never had a customer request cash back.

That goal saw him taste test 30 different brands of hotdogs before settling on Nathan's brand, which he imports from New York. He said he knew it was the hotdog he wanted for the cart from the first taste. He said it reminded him of a hotdog he had on a trip to Coney Island with his grandmother when he was just four years old.

Meier said he was close to his grandmother, Myrtle, and decided to name the cart after her.

The hotdogs aren't the only imported products on the cart.

Meier imports a special green relish and sport peppers from Chicago for the Chicago-style hot dog.

He picks up his fresh-made buns from Thrifty Foods daily and aims to ensure the rest of his ingredients are as fresh and local as possible - he uses sweet onions from Washington State and local tomatoes.

Myrtle's is a labour of love for Meier. He's up early in the morning chopping and caramelizing onions, and getting his other toppings ready.

Myrtle's Famous Hot Dogs can be found at Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall every Thursday to Sunday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. He posts updates on Twitter at @ Myrtleshotdogs.

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