L.A. nightlife king Sam Nazarian now selling hot dogs

Apparently, hotels, nightclubs and restaurants are not fashionable enough to undergird developer Sam Nazarian’s SBE lifestyle brand, so he’s adding a new, unlikely element: hot dogs.

That’s right—among luxury linens, rooftop swimming pools and St.Tropez-style nightclubs, Nazarian is now purveyor of Papaya King hot dog carts. The 35-year-old developer has teamed with the New York-based company to launch a series of hot dog stands throughout Los Angeles, the first of which opened in the heart of Hollywood last week. No word yet on whether the Manhattan transplant will taste any good in L.A. and with long lines round the clock at the Hollywood institution Pink’s, Nazarian has a tough act to follow. According to at least one customer surveyed by the New York Times, Papaya’s sausages are just “average.”

From the New York Times:

This symbol of New York landed last week in the heart of Hollywood, with a cluster of balloons and a cheeky billboard campaign that includes an off-color joke about a casting couch. (Another Papaya billboard reads: “We’re 100 percent natural. But we think we’ll fit in L.A. just fine.”)

Not only is the first time in its 80-year history that Papaya King has looked west of the Hudson, it has also chosen as its first target a city that might be as crazy and competitive about food — and hot dogs — as New York. Indeed, even at 1:10 a.m. on Monday, a long line of people was spotted at Pink’s Hot Dogs on La Brea Avenue, waiting patiently for one of this city’s more celebrated hot dogs.

Papaya King teamed up with a restaurant and luxury developer, SBE, to open the shop here and, in the year to come, in other locations across the West. Sam Nazarian, the founder of the company, said he was not worried about the homegrown competition, saying the Papaya dog — not to mention the signature Papaya Drink, made with fresh papaya juice — would more than hold its own with the Western audience.

“Pink’s is a fast-food stand — it has everything and anything,” he said. “For us, it’s literally all about the hot dog.” Mr. Nazarian said he liked and respected Pink’s, but “L.A., I think, is looking for something new.”

Read my 2009 profile of Sam Nazarian here