Jack's owner Jarrett Hodson enjoys a cosmic dog outside the new James Island location. | Photos by Ruta Smith

Out-of-this-world hot dogs are coming to new locations on James Island and in West Ashley just in time for summer under Jarrett Hodson’s ownership. 

Jack’s Cosmic Dogs has been a staple in Charleston for more than 23 years. Originally opened off Folly Road on James Island, it’s called Mount Pleasant home for more than a decade. In April 2022, Hodson bought the beloved space-themed restaurant from founder Jack Hurley with big plans for expansion.

Hodson told the Charleston City Paper that he’s excited to take the hot doggery to the next level. 

“It’s a creative outlet for me,” Hodson said. “[Jack Hurley] is so artistic, and I am much more business, but I just love the space theme and its potential.” 

Hodson’s vision is to recreate an environment to enjoy good food while spending time with friends and family. 

Hurley, although no longer involved with the business, believes Hodson shares his vision and focus. 

“I like Jarrett [Hodson]. I like the family. And I like that he can make the next step. He’s great and has got ambition.”

 Under Hodson’s ownership, new locations on James Island and in West Ashley will make it easy for people to get Jack’s hot dogs. Hodson said the James Island location, formerly occupied by Sweetwater Cafe on Folly Road, will open July 10. It has spacious indoor and outdoor seating and the inside is embellished with familiar galactic decor as well as a brand-new game room. 

Distinctive artwork greets patrons

Diners familiar with Jack’s Cosmic Dogs have likely noticed the cartoon artwork hanging all over the walls. For the James Island location, the original artist Valdes recreated the unique cardboard paintings. 

Photo by Ruta Smith

One of Hodson’s priorities was to maintain the same retro, space-themed and family-friendly environment that Hurley culminated from the beginning. 

“Very early on, I liked the artist Valdes, and he did all the original dogs,” Hurley said. “And then Jarrett [Hodson] reached out and talked to him to redo some stuff for here. Twenty-three years later, we have new dog paintings from the same artist and in the same style.”

The James Island menu is going to be similar to the original with the popular Atomic and Galactic hot dogs featuring the same unique toppings, and there will be plenty of root beer to go around. The Atomic dog is topped with housemade chili, diced onion and spicy mustard, while the Galactic dog is made with chili, cheese, blue cheese coleslaw and their original Jack’s Cosmic mustard. 

 “When starting the restaurant, I had to do something different,” Hurley said. “How many dogs have chili? They all do. How many dogs have sauerkraut? They all do. But how many dogs have sweet potato mustard and blue cheese coleslaw? I knew that was going to get attention,” Hurley said. 

Hodson wanted to make sure the customers knew they would get the same quality cosmic dogs they know and love no matter which location they stop into.

 A lot of consideration went into where the next location would land, but Hodson said he was persuaded when he saw a slew of comments on Facebook and Instagram requesting a James Island location.

Hodson said he strategically planned the Jack’s expansion to ensure Charlestonians would have easy access to the food and a wide delivery radius. 

West Ashley location

“The third location is going to be our rocket food truck over in Avondale in West Ashley, which will really help with our delivery time,” he said. “I think the blanket [coverage area] with all three locations is something like 80% or 85% of Charleston could get hot dogs in 20 minutes or less.” 

For now, the rocket food truck is operating for lunch at the James Island location. Once the doors open on James Island, the rocket will blast its way over to West Ashley.  You’ll then find it at DB’s Cheesesteaks in West Ashley, or you can order from delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats. You might also soon be able to get hot dogs from Jack’s all hours of the day and night as Hodson intends to add nighttime hours as late as 2 a.m. for those craving a midnight snack. 

Hodson wants Jack’s to be people’s go-to in terms of fast and quality food. “You could get five hot dogs for like $20 or $25 for your family in less than 20 minutes. It’s quick and easy.”

Hodson already has one guaranteed customer: Hurley, who confirmed he plans to frequently stop by the new James Island location.

Love Best of Charleston?

Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.