The Captain Paul’s Firehouse Dogs staff includes Mariefred Evans, Kelly Tweedly, Ellen Tweedly, Liz Chocon, Janice Tweedly and Paul Tweedly. (Staff photo by Kait Kelly.)

Retired firefighter Paul Tweedy opens hot dog and ice cream stand in Lawrence.

When Paul Tweedly retired after working 26 years with the Trenton Fire Department as a Captain, he began helping out a friend at an ice cream and Italian ice stand called Gelato’s.

After some time, Paul and his wife, Janice, were given the opportunity to take over the stand, and in 2009, the couple opened the doors to Captain Paul’s Firehouse Dogs, a family owned and operated hot dog/ice cream stand.

“We saw an opportunity to put a new business here,” Tweedly said. “To me, there was a lot of wasted room that could be utilized to do other things.”

Already owning a hot dog cart, the next move was easy.

“There weren’t a lot of hot dogs around,” Tweedly said. “There was Russ Ayres out in Bordentown, but there was really nothing else in the area. We decided to add hot dogs in here and try to build a business from that. It seems to be working out.”

Captain Paul’s uses Hatfield hot dogs and Old Tyme HD rolls. All items are served fresh daily. With a solid foundation on hot dogs and ice cream, the Tweedlys then decided to bring in a fryer and let the creativity pour out.

“Once we got the fryer, we were able to expand the menu and bring in French fries and chicken fingers,” Tweedly said. “From there, we were able to create a lot of different things.”

Most of the sandwiches found on the menu at Captain Paul’s were inspired by the meals made during Tweedly’s time at the firehouse.

“We use to make chicken tender sandwiches with mozzarella sticks on a nice roll,” Paul said. “Sometimes, we would dip them in buffalo sauce and add bleu cheese. We would just throw things together. Basically, you just see what’s left in the refrigerator from the guys the night before. If you found meatballs or sausage, you’d throw them on there. You had to get creative.”

Captain Paul’s pays tribute back to the firehouse, as well as other emergency service workers such as the police, EMTs and the military. They do this by lining their walls with patches, helmets and other memorabilia in honor of those who protect the community, as well as naming many of their sandwiches after these brave men and women.

The ice cream at Captain Paul’s is made with a similar idea as the sandwiches. Using trial and error, they mix different ingredients together until they create something unique and tasty.

“Janice brought a whole new prospective to the business by making the fresh ice cream,” Tweedly said. “And we name all our flavors after Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi songs because they’re Jersey guys. It keeps it fun.”

Tweedly believes the creativity keeps Captain Paul’s fun for not only the staff, but the customers, too.

“Sometimes the customers will sing the song of the flavor they want,” he said. “We try to make it an experience.”

This fall, Captain Paul’s will have seasonal pumpkin ice cream and apple pie ice cream. These favorites are also known as Red Headed Woman and My Hometown.

Aside from the hot dogs—Tweedly’s obvious favorites—he said he really loves the Italian dog, better known as the “Trooper.” The Trooper is a fried hot dog with potatoes, peppers and mustard. It has a special place in Tweedly’s heart, as it reminds him of his days working at Engine 7.

“When I was at Engine 7 on Hamilton Avenue, Casino was right down the street,” he said. “We’d go and try to elbow people out of the way because the line was so long.”

Tweedly said the Italian dog at Casino was unlike anything he’s had for some time. Bringing the Trooper to his stand is his way of keeping a tradition alive for the older generation, while letting the newer generation get a taste of something that’s been such a staple to him as well as many others in the area.

Tweedly said all generations in the community have embraced them, and he is very happy with the way things have worked out. He said so many people in the community support him and his stand, and he tries to give back by supporting them as well.

“We do a lot of fundraising here,” he said. “We do all the schools, a lot of the firehouses in the area. We enjoy being part of this community. There are a lot of great places in this community already, and we’re just happy to be a part of it. This community has made us successful.”

Tweedly said he enjoys not only the success and acceptance into the community, but he enjoys the everyday of his job, as well.

“I get to work with my wife every day, and it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “I also love getting to meet new people. We have friends now that we would have never had before. New people keep coming in.”

The stand has made a big jump from its days as Gelato’s, to now becoming Captain Paul’s Firehouse dogs, serving hot dogs, specialty sandwiches, soft-serve ice cream, shakes, smoothies, home-made flavored ice and more.

“It’s really turned into something special,” Tweedly said.

Captain Paul’s Firehouse Dogs is located at 2230 Princeton Pike in Lawrence. Phone: (609) 323-7253. On the Web: captainpaulsdogs.com.