Mason Wright, a 14-year-old entrepreneur who reportedly is Georgia’s youngest restaurant owner, says he’s settling in at his new business, the hot dog joint he operates. Last fall, the entrepreneur hosted the grand opening of Mason’s Super Dogs, located in Stonecrest, a part of metropolitan Atlanta. Within the first week, he’d already sold out of his hot dogs, twice.
“It feels fulfilling, like when you walk for a long time and you finally get to your destination,” Wright said of his achievement.
The ambitious teenager said he’s dreamed of running a business since he was nine years old. Wright found the motivation to carve out his own career path from the very people who’d told him no.
“I told myself, ‘I can be my own businessman,’ so I started walking dogs, washing cars and mowing lawns,” Wright said. Inspired by New York City’s street vendors, he bought his own hot dog stand at age 10.
Wright later auditioned for season 10 of the ABC-TV television show, “Shark Tank,” at Atlanta’s Morehouse College, but he says the experience didn’t go as he had hoped. “I was stumbling on my words, I couldn’t remember anything, so they just showed me out of the room.”
As fate would have it, Wright was in the right place at the right time. “I went to the bookstore, and the president of Morehouse was [there],” he said. “I told him my pitch, and he said I could work at his campus every time I had good grades.”
It was a great opportunity that didn’t come without its challenges. The college had a contract with food service company Aramark that allowed Wright to sell on campus. However, not everyone was aware that he had a right to do business there.
“A lot of times, people would call the inspector on me thinking that I didn’t have all my certificates because I was very young,” he said.
After selling hot dogs from his stand, he wanted to expand to a restaurant location, but again he faced roadblocks. “To get all my permits, they wanted to take my name off of the building because they didn’t believe that I was 14 and could have a building like this,” Wright said. “To get my name back on, that took three months; it was a process.”
It’s been a long journey to get the Mason’s Super Dogs restaurant up and running. Wright says mentors like Jay Bailey, president and CEO of the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, helped make it possible.
“This young man has the kind of support networks, he’s not afraid to ask for help, he’s not afraid to call me at 10 o’clock at night and say, you know, ‘Mr. Jay, I got a question about something,’ or, ‘I need some help,’” Bailey told Atlanta Black Star. “That kind of tenacity, you can’t really teach.”
Wright says his hot dog menu has a little bit of something for everyone, including beef, chicken and vegan options. “With my hot dog stand, you get something you would never think to put on a hot dog, like Philly cheesesteak pizza or chopped chicken,” he said.
He added that he’s proud to serve both quality and tasty food. “When someone grabs a Mason’s Super Dog, they expect the best, and they receive the best,” Wright said. The young business owner said he intends to continue expanding his Mason’s Super Dogs to multiple locations in the future.