One look at Qweenie RGV’s bright pink, outer-space inspired murals complete with a Schnauzer dog in a flying saucer and you know you’re in for a one-of-a-kind experience. The business’ slogan “Qweenie hot dogs are savage — not average” makes it clear that customers can expect anything but ordinary when they order their meal.
This is exactly what owners Kimberly Avila and her fiancé, Brian Nunn, had in mind when they started their business. Shortly after graduating from UTRGV in 2018 with her bachelor’s degree in psychology and minor in sociology, Avila decided to take a chance on purchasing a food trailer in order to launch her business.
“It was right around finals week when I saw the trailer online,” Avila said. “All of my previous thoughts of enjoying cooking and wanting to open a business hit me all at once. We had talked about it a long time ago when we were in California, but it was super expensive for us. I thought it wouldn’t be a huge loss if it failed. So I decided to purchase it and then see where it would go from there.”
Qweenie’s name originated from Nunn when he combined Avila’s idea of “queen of weenies” into one simple word that rolled off the tongue. “We kept saying it over and over. And it sounded really cute and awesome. So we just decided to stick with it. And we love it.”
Qweenie’s trailer’s graphic design and distinctive space-themed logo was created by Avila and Nunn’s friend, fellow RGV native and professional graphic designer David Garcia. “All of the four photos that are on each wall of the trailer tell a different story about our brand,” Avila said. “We were talking to him about what we wanted and the color scheme and idea of an out-of-this-world alien type theme. I also wanted to incorporate Diego, my dog, and he literally just put it all together and created it.”
When starting out, Avila said the first couple of months were difficult getting customers to take a chance on a $6 hotdog. After offering customers promotions like free drinks or free chips with a Facebook check-in or sharing photos of food on social media, business began to grow quickly.
“It was kind of like free marketing and everybody was posting and tagging us everywhere,” Avila said. “That really helped us out. Our name kind of spread like wildfire.”
Fast forward to the present day, and photos of their food circulating online continue to bring in new customers.
“People eat with their eyes, so we try to take as many photos as we can of our food and share it on social media. From there, people just seek us out because of how good the food looks,” Avila said.
Avila and Nunn knew they wanted their menu to reflect a fusion of different flavors, some familiar and some new. Qweenie’s customers have helped make five fan favorites permanent items on their menu. These include their Pizza Dog, Mac Dog, Hot Cheeto Dog, Taco Dog, and Fry Dog. Aside from these popular picks, adventurous customers can always try the Dog of the Day, which is a new recipe that varies on a daily basis.
“Aside from our food being unique, the creation of it is different,” Avila said. “We probably have about 50 total recipes that we’ve done since we’ve been open. We like to experiment a lot with different recipes to give our customers a new taste.” Qweenie’s also offers vegetarian options and will accommodate those on a keto diet with grilled cheese wrapped dogs in place of buns.
With their business’ success, Avila and Nunn are eager to share Qweenie’s flavor with more customers and expand their brand in the near future. “We want to have several trucks, several locations,” Avila said. “A brick and mortar main restaurant in the Valley where it’s kind of like the home location. Hopefully by next year we’ll have one trailer outside of the Valley in a bigger city. Expansion for sure is in the works.”
Avila and Nunn hope to inspire others interested in starting their own business to stop waiting for the perfect time or conditions and just “go for it.” “You can’t just wait for everything to be perfect because you’re never going to start,” Avila said. “You just have to take the chance and everything will fall into place as long as you put in the work.”
Avila said even through the inevitable challenges that running her own business brings, she wouldn’t trade the independence of being her own boss for the world. “I feel like it’s made me more resilient in a way, because when you’re your own boss, there’s nobody to bail you out of a problem or answer a question. You have to figure it out for yourself.”
Avila said that problem-solver mentality is the key to success. “I don’t really focus on the obstacles,” she said. “I just try to find a solution to everything that is thrown my way.”
Follow Qweenie’s social media accounts to see their location of the day, hours of operation, and menu as well as to see the latest promotions and upcoming events via their social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok all via the same handle, @qweeniergv. Customers can also reach out to Qweenie’s official email at firstname.lastname@example.org for business inquiries about catering or events.