Young entrepreneur puts the ‘super’ in his Stonecrest hot dog business

Young entrepreneur Mason Wright opened his Stonecrest restaurant, Mason's Super Dogs in October.  Steve Schaefer for The AJC
Young entrepreneur Mason Wright opened his Stonecrest restaurant, Mason's Super Dogs in October. Steve Schaefer for The AJC

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Earlier this month, Mason Wright got the surprise of his life when his comic book-inspired hero “Iron Man” gave him a shoutout on national television.

“Oh, my man,” said actor Robert Downey Jr. during a surprise call on “The Drew Barrymore Show” while Mason was a guest.

At 14, Mason may be one of the youngest restaurant owners in Georgia. He was recently recognized by the city of Stonecrest and has been featured in several articles.

Young entrepreneurs like Mason, Downey said, “have a vision. You make it real. This is the American dream. You are a complete rock star, my friend.”

Then he asks Barrymore to hook him up with “this kid, I need to know him,” and to send one of Mason’s vegan hot dogs, which were named by PETA as one of the top meat-free dogs in the nation.

ExploreCheck out this list of more than 300 Black-owned restaurants and food businesses in metro Atlanta

“I was really surprised and excited,” said Mason, who is home-schooled and an avid comic book fan who plans to start his own comic book club for readers, collectors and sellers. “I’ve been watching since ‘Iron Man 1′ and to see him shout me out, it was exciting.”

He opened Mason’s Super Dogs last October at 3275 Snapfinger Road in Stonecrest, on the site of a former sandwich shop.

Before that, Mason ran a hot dog cart on the campus of Morehouse College. He also caters events for businesses and private parties and sells hot dogs at various festivals.

He was just about to pitch an idea for a hot dog restaurant on campus when the pandemic hit, shutting down classes and cutting deep into his clientele.

At this takeout restaurant, which has limited outdoor seating, Mason sells beef, chicken and turkey hot dogs with a dozen combinations of toppings from the Mighty Dog, which is just the dog and bun, to the more adventurous Professor Dilly, a beef hot dog wrapped in a jumbo dill pickle, the Donatello Dog (a favorite) that is topped with pepperoni, chives, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and marinara sauce, and the MAD Mango Dog, a vegan hot dog topped with chili sauce, mango salsa and jalapeno peppers.

Prices range from $6 to $8.

A hot dog topped with cheese and jalapenos is ready to be served at Mason's Super Dogs restaurant in Stonecrest. Steve Schaefer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A hot dog topped with cheese and jalapenos is ready to be served at Mason's Super Dogs restaurant in Stonecrest. Steve Schaefer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

The hot dog “is America’s food and it’s very versatile,” said Mason. “You can have it in any season.”

He also sells tater tots and what he calls “Walking Nachos,” nacho chips with various toppings in the bag.

Mason got the idea for a hot dog business during several trips to New York with his sister, Mary-Pat Hector, an activist and Georgia youth director for Black Youth Vote.

“It’s my favorite food, and when I was in New York, I saw people waiting in very long lines to try one. I knew that I could take the business concept back to Atlanta. I wanted it to be a ‘Purple Cow,’“ a business and marketing concept to make a business stand out from the crowd.

His goal is to expand the business, and he and his dad, Jerome Wright, recently scouted for a second location in Atlanta. His mother helps him at the restaurant, and he also employs two friends.

“Mason is very shy and the total opposite of his sister, Mary-Pat,” said his mother, Kathy Wright. At work, though, “he turns into somebody else. It’s like, ‘Mr. Business.’ He greets customers, he makes sure the orders are right and if someone is waiting too long, he’ll say, ‘Let me give you a free bag of chips or a bottle of water.’”

ExploreHere's a list of more than 300 Black-owned restaurants, food businesses in metro Atlanta

She said he looks at the comments on social media, and if a review is not perfect, he’ll say that the business has to do better.

The business is making money, said Mason, who often throws in an enthusiastic “Precisely!” when he agrees with you.

Mason counts as his mentors Atlanta radio commentator and host Rashad Richey and James “Jay” Bailey, president and CEO of the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“I could tell the kid was focused from the time I met him when he was about 12 or 13,” said Bailey. “He had a goal of being a millionaire by the time he was 16.”

Mason became a vendor at the Russell Center during events and meetings.

“He has a fearlessness and certain optimism that is rarely found and is not limited by what the world says he can or cannot do.”

Yet, Bailey said he is also struck by the young entrepreneur’s humbleness.

Young entrepreneur Mason Wright (left) and Ayden Whitely put together a food order at Mason's Super Dogs restaurant in Stonecrest. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE AJC
Young entrepreneur Mason Wright (left) and Ayden Whitely put together a food order at Mason's Super Dogs restaurant in Stonecrest. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE AJC

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

When he talks about being successful, it’s to help his family and the community. He doesn’t talk about benefiting himself. He doesn’t rave about one day driving a Mercedes or (Dodge) Hellcat.

Mason once auditioned for the popular TV show “Shark Tank,” where entrepreneurs hope to land investors for their businesses.

Mason didn’t make the cut, but considers it a blessing because as he was walking around, he ran into the president of Morehouse College and pitched the idea of a cart on campus.

“He’s so emphatic when he says ‘Precisely!’ that he makes you feel like you actually just said the best thing in the world,” said Bailey.

“He’s enthusiastic about everything,” he added. “It’s a window back into why we do everything we do.”

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