The handshake is the first indication that this is no ordinary hot dog vendor.
Dean Parmenter’s hands have a rough feel, the byproduct of 37 years as a plumber. But the physical demands of plumbing caused Parmenter to rethink his future and reinvent himself.
In October, he opened Deano’s Diner in Greenbank, hoping that one day he will able to put his plumber’s wrench away for good.
“I used to work like a dog,” Parmenter, 54, said. “Now, I’m paying for it. A friend of mine told me that I’d always be doing plumbing. I said, ‘Don’t tell me that.’ ”
Parmenter is aware that he’s only taken baby steps toward his goal of becoming a full-time restaurateur.
His eatery, located next to the Greenbank Store & Grille on Highway 525, is very much still a glorified hot dog stand at this point, with a menu that consists of hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and soda.
However, Deano’s Diner is an indoor venue with a cozy feel, limited seating and potential only as large as the owner’s imagination. French fries are the next item in his sights.
“I got a deep fryer yesterday,” said Parmenter, in an interview earlier this month. “I just need to figure out how to cook them. I can always figure things out.”
It’s clear by spending only a short time with Parmenter that he’s having fun and enjoys interacting with customers.
He still works as a plumber on Monday and Tuesday and opens the diner only from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
Grilling hot dogs is nothing new to Parmenter, who’s operated a cart at various sites the past two years on and off Whidbey Island, including at events in Chehalis and Leavenworth.
He takes care to steam the wieners rather than boil, then places them on a grill before serving.
Parmenter’s selection consists of a gourmet German sausage, Louisiana spicy smoked hot dog, a quarter-pounder-plus frank and a veggie dog, with prices ranging from $4 to $6.
Do-it-yourself condiments include sauerkraut, onions, cream cheese and a variety of sauces.