Hot Food, Cold Drinks, and Great People

Summer is finally here, and this year we actually get to enjoy it! The sun is out, and our town is open. We all want to see the outside world again, so pick a day, grab a few friends, and bring your healthy appetite down to Char’s Hotdogs on First Street.

The owner, Kimberly Casarino, knew restaurant work was her calling since she was a child. She would play waitress with her grandma and grandpa, using cookbooks as menus. Kim took over Char’s Hot Dogs in 2016 from Charlene Herd, who had owned it for almost 20 years. After 30 years of working in the business, Kim had finally reached her lifelong dream of owning her own restaurant! Her expertise and commitment are evident in the immaculate customer service, clean conditions, and inclusive menu.

This month, we got a chance to ask Kim a few questions about herself and her business:

BM: What was your first job?

KC: My first job was at 15. I was a busser at the Nantucket Fish Company in Crockett, CA.

BM: What motivates you when things get difficult?

KC: What motivates me the most is my son, I have pretty much raised him on my own.

BM: Who would you be most excited to see walk up to your restaurant?

KC: Both sets of my grandparents, they all had passed before I took over Char’s and they never got to see what I have accomplished.

BM: What is your favorite thing about your career?

KC: The people. I like to see them happy and enjoying their food, especially kids.

BM: Who has inspired you the most?

KC: My mom has always been there to tell me that I can be or do what I want to do if I put my mind to it, and she was there to help me out when I took over Char’s.

BM: What is YOUR favorite thing on the menu?

KC: The Mushroom Swiss burger.

BM: What do you like about your location inside the Tannery Building?

KC: I get to see people all day long go through there. Even if they are not my customers, I have still gotten to know a lot of people and talk to them.

BM: What do you love most about owning a business in Benicia?

KC: What I love about owning a business in Benicia is all the love and support from my customers, especially during the pandemic. I have a lot of regulars.

Kim has so much love for our small town and it’s no secret that Benicia loves Char’s just as much. Here’s what a few locals had to say when asked what their favorite thing about Char’s was:

“Eating outside by the water with a beer and friends.” -Niki T.

“The flavor for price value!” -Tyler T.

“Even though Char no longer owns it, the kindest family took it over and it carries on!” -Kelsey C.

“Friendly workers and easy access to the pub!” -Aly M.

“Love this place. The lovely ladies that work here are so nice, the food is fresh and delicious, and the service is fast…This place is a must-try!” -Lara N.

“Everything we’ve ever ordered never disappoints.” -Lachelle J.

Wow! There’s a lot to love about this small business!

Char’s doesn’t only sell classic hot dogs that make you feel like a kid again; they make signature burgers and offer plenty of vegan/vegetarian options, too! Order whatever catches your eye, don’t forget the basket of fries or onion rings, then grab a table there or head next door to sip on an ice-cold drink at Cullen’s pub. The lovely people at Char’s will bring your food directly to your table at either location.

If you’re in the picnicking mood, then there’s an option for you, too. Char’s is only a few steps away from the First Street Green! Pack a frisbee, a speaker, and lots of sunscreen, then order your food to-go. After that, all you need to do is carry your food across the street, and you’ll have plenty of space to spread out and soak up the sun or play fetch with your pup.

As businesses open and friends are able to meet up face to face again, a cold beer outside with your best buddies and an absolutely mouth-watering chili cheese dog is exactly what you deserve. So, whether you’re a returning customer or looking to try Char’s for the first time, I suggest you explore their menu at and follow them on Instagram @hotdogsfromchars for updates. When you’re ready to run on down and enjoy some good eats, you can find Char’s in the old tannery building at 131 First Street.

A group dining on Char's Hotdogs at Cullen's pub cheers