Two sisters — both first-time restaurateurs — leaped into the restaurant business a year ago when they opened Spotlights Grill in Oro Valley, and both are happy they took the chance.
Cheryl Salamon and Chris Crow own the eatery with the family-style feel on the southeast corner of E. Lambert Lane and N. La Cañada Drive.
"We grew up in New York and when we moved out here we decided the West Coast needed the kind of hot dogs that we grew up with," Salamon said. "So we built our restaurant around the idea of charbroiled hot dogs, never steamed, as well as grilled burgers."
Spotlights Grill has built a following in a place where all types of people patronize the place, Salamon pointed out.
"We have a lot of regulars for both lunch and dinner," she said, "and when school is in session, lunchtime is very busy with a lot of kids coming in to eat from CDO (Canada Del Oro) and Ironwood Ridge high schools."
When the sisters first started the restaurant, hot dogs topped the Grill's popularity, but soon the burgers attracted more attention.
"We've become known as a good burger restaurant," Salamon said. "It's what people know us for now. Our burger meat is always fresh and never frozen, and we make our burgers with a third of a pound of meat."
Between the popularity of burgers and hot dogs, Salamon and Crow made recent additions to the menu, including a full line of bottled beers, increasing the Grill's selection of hot dogs to 11 different varieties, and its hamburgers to nine different types. The Grill also is offering more made-to-order items like chicken, chili and cheese steak dishes.
Salamon said she's especially proud of the Grill's array of burgers and hot dogs.
"Some of the hot dogs we have are the chili, cheese, bacon chili cheese, sauerkraut, Chicago style, Sonoran and Polish," she said.
Regular favorites are the Chicago style (with pickle, tomato, sweet relish, diced onions, yellow mustard and sport peppers) and the Sonoran dog (with bacon, pinto beans, grilled onions, diced tomatoes and onions, yellow mustard, mayo and green sauce).
"On the burger side, there's the bacon cheeseburger, BBQ bacon burger, chili cheeseburger, teriyaki and veggie burgers, plus others," Salamon added.
Besides serving the kind of food that people want, Salamon and Crow recently added entertainment to the Grill's offerings.
"We had the Oro Valley Theatre Group's improv troupe perform two different nights last month," she said, "giving our patrons on the patio an hour-an-a-half of entertainment."
James Ewing, the group's director, said some of the material performed at Spotlights Grill was scripted, while much of it was improvisational. In fact, he added, the group's members took suggestions from the crowd and built sketches around those ideas.
"The people at Spotlights Grill loved us," Ewing said. "They had a lot of fun, tipped big and a number of them even joined our theater group. They seem to go away well pleased with their evening."
Ewing said the theatre group plans a festival of one-act plays in September. (For more information go to http://www.ovtg.com">www.ovtg.com or call 603-9351).
As for Salamon and Crow, they plan on having the improv group back at Spotlights Grill in the near future, as soon as the group's season allows.
1335 W. Lambert Lane, Oro Valley
Sunday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Go to http://www.spotlightsgrill.com">www.spotlightsgrill.com, or call 204-1751.