We had driven past this place about 500 times. However, without the misfortune of several dozen careless people driving north and south on US 17 we would have probably passed it one more time.
As we headed north out of Charleston and into Mt. Pleasant toward Myrtle Beach the traffic began to look as if it were 5:15 pm on a Friday. People getting off work and trying with all their driving skills to weave in and out of traffic and get through those amber lights before they turn red is a horrible problem on this stretch of 17. (Charleston may be the most polite city, as judged by some questionable authority, but they have some the worst drivers south of the Mason Dixon Line.) But this was not a Friday afternoon. This was a normal Wednesday afternoon around 1:20. What was going on? Cars were switching lanes as the left lane started to move slightly slower than the right. Then the right lane came to a complete stop, and the same drivers decided to switch back to the “fast lane.”
As we approached, the pink-trimmed yellow building seemed like a Welcome Center for people who were traveling at a snail’s pace. So an executive decision was made, and I pulled into Jack’s Cosmic Dogs. After all my wife and I had not had lunch yet and this seemed to be written in the cosmos. The front parking lot was nearly empty so I saw no need to heed the sign on the building that alleged “more parking in rear.” Upon our entrance I first looked for a table. Then I noticed a sign above the counter that told customers to “order here.” So I started a line at the cash register. As soon as the line was formed I was asked by a young female attendant with a pad and pencil what I wanted. It was then that I noticed the menu above me.
I was taken aback a little because I had never really heard of an Astro Dog , a Blue Galactic or an Atomic Dog. Luckily there were explanations beside each item. I felt that I was on the clock to place my order since the young girl never left my side and the pencil never left the writing position. My eye quickly scanned down to the Orbit City Dog. This was my kind of dog: chili, cheese and spicy mustard! The only thing it lacked I thought was slaw, but what the hell — I had been on a time limit, it seemed. My wife had the advantage of my ordering first to have time to find the dog that she loves, although she had never called it a Krypto Kraut dog. We added a bag of chips and unsweetened iced tea to our order, gave them our name, paid and found a seat. It was not hard because the place had only about 10 customers who occupied five or six of the 15 or so tables and counter stools.
Here’s Jack mingling and keeping things in order.
After taking our seats we began to check out the place more carefully. There on the wall were articles from various magazines that had written about Jack’s. Among the most notable was an article that had been in Southern Living. I didn’t catch the date, but we all know that if it was in SL it has to be right, right? We continued reading the menu. If dogs are not your thing, you can always order a tofu dog with any of those same trimmings, or a fried carrot or Mercury Meat Loaf. So Jack’s is just not for dog lovers. It was then that we noticed that we had arrived at Jack’s at the right time. The line that I had started no more than five minutes ago had grown to six other parties of various sizes.
Someone yelled out “Mitch” and I stepped up to pick up our order. Neither of us was disappointed. In fact, we were downright impressed. Maybe the best dog I have had since high school, when I really was a dog lover!
Our time had been well spent in Jack’s Cosmic Dogs. We got a great meal, and the traffic was now back to its normal Talladega Speedway pace. Slightly half a mile up US 17 we saw the reason for our full stomachs and new experience. A van with a crunched front end had tried to climb up a telephone pole and only made it about ten feet up. Two other cars must have been looking at the van’s attempt to get to the top because they each had bashed-in doors, trunks and hoods. We kept our eyes on the road and continued north — better for our experience at Jack’s. Now we’re planning when we might be passing that way again.