Tales from the Dog Side: Finding a fit for the Dogs

When it rains it pours. If we didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck. If it can go wrong, it probably will. You can’t please everybody all the time. Murphy is an asshole, and any other cliches I can think of to describe life in the hot dog cart business.

We originally started this crazy ride with the intention of bringing another dinner option to Chatham, IL.

We got the idea because we spent many nights eating out last fall. Generally, we spent our regular dinner hours trucking the girls to all their practices, games, and events. Throw in a night of Sunday School (on a Wednesday) and we ate out a ton.

It was always an ordeal that took a minimum of an hour if we were lucky. The kids weren’t getting to homework until late.

Fast forward and dinners just haven’t worked out. We did four nights. Four nights that saw a total of forty hot dogs being sold. That’s a ten Dog a day average. Dinners were not good to us.

It almost seemed as if the town got quiet. A quiet only rivaled by the darkness of midnight. The town seemed deserted. Many reasons exist for this. Maybe many out of town era just want to get home and don’t want to stop. Maybe parents, like us, were racing home to pick up their children so they could be shuttled from event to event. Maybe dinners would best be served later. We don’t know and we can’t seem to predict.

We do know that lunches have been pretty decent and with a mobile, one person operator, cart it’s hard to stay out longer for far fewer sales. Nature does sometimes beckon. What’s a guy to do?

We would love to serve the public both lunch and dinner; however, dinner just hasn’t been friendly.

Here at Mack Dawg’s we do not give up so easily. In fact, we’ve written a few posts about the obstacles thrown our way.

We are, after all, mobile so we are planning a move, a possible reduction in days, but an increase in actual hours we serve delicious Chicago Style Hot Dogs to the fine folks of Chatham.

We are currently awaiting word if we can set up again in the Family Video parking lot. We had to submit an application.

We do know, however, that we can get a permit from the city of Chatham to set up on the square or Center Park. This is a location that we feel would be a good fit. There is more parking. There are picnic tables, and plenty of lawn to have an impromptu picnic when you come get a Chicago Style Hot Dog.

We feel we would be more visible and easily accessible. We are hoping that this exposure and ease of access will allow us to serve you better and longer. This may help us stay open into the early evening hours. Plus, we can advertise as Mack Dawg’s on the Square in Chatham. That just sounds cool to us.

So, please keep spreading the word and visit Mack Dawg’s Chicago Style Hot Dogs. You don’t have to come every day, but we’d love to see you once a week!

Tales from the Dog Side

We made it through week one at Mack Dawg's. It's been an interesting week to say the least.

Tuesday morning came around after very little sleep and many, many thoughts of the future.

We had decided to put a hitch on the Impala to get us around town slinging delicious hot dogs.

The girls decided they wanted to help out and that's where things began to get interesting. I had to drive the girls out to the sight and go back home to load the car since a tiny Impala won't hold them and all the gear.

It took some maneuvering to fit everything into the car but I got it all in and set out to set up to serve Chicago Style Hot Dogs to the fine folks of Chatham, IL.

We've never experienced a grand opening of our own before. We were able to advertise some and build a small following before launch. Obviously, we were hopeful it wouldn't be a complete bust.

Alas, our first customer pulled up shortly after 11:30 am and we were officially in business.


Photo courtesy of Barbara Ruckman Soppe

The forecast had called for rain most of the day and we did muddle through two small showers and pulled off our first day, an eight hour day to boot.

The day gave us much hope and a few insights.
In fact, we did two late days and two lunches. The week went better each day we set up.

We were able to streamline our set up and break down process and work our stove and inventory a little better.

I had tremendous help from two of my girls and we decided to let them come out a little later in the day on day three. It was time to let dad do it all on his own. Heck, school will be starting soon and I'll be all by myself then so it was good practice.

Wouldn't you know it, we had our busiest hour of the week during the hour I was alone. It was quite comical.

Sometimes, I get so excited chatting with customers that I make their hot dog the wrong way and have to start over. Every time I did this the customer was quick to say don't worry about it and they said they'd take it the way I made it, but I couldn't have that. It's awesome for them to be forgiving, but we have to get YOUR order right.

We have decided to use poppy seed buns for all our hot dogs. If you want a plain bun, just ask. We will have some on hand every day.

More folks tried the Chicago Style Hot Dog and we thinks the tide may be turning. LOL

A big thank you to all who joined us this week. We will be back on Monday morning ready to serve the hungry people of Chatham.

Don't forget to tell your friends and don't be afraid to share our stuff on Facebook

Finally, a decently located local distributor.

From the minute we decided to take this journey we’ve been on a hunt. 

A hunt across many websites and google searches looking for a place to get the best possible products for Mack Dawg’s Chicago Style Hot Dogs. 

Now, as you’ve probably read, I grew up in the Chicagoland area and the absolute best is a Vienna Beef hot dog. 

Chicago Style Hot Dog

Look, there are hot dog stands spread throughout the city of Chicago and, sadly, not all of them use the best dog. 

One of my favorite joints was just down the street. It was a place opened by a Greek man in an old stand alone Tastee Freeze. He offered a 3 dog and fries special. He gave a lunch sack full of fries and used generic dogs probably loaded with fillers. But, the price was right. 

We began looking online for Vienna beef and could find them in Amazon, but the price with added shipping wouldn’t make their use feasible. 

Had we lived in a suburb just outside of Chicago, we could have obtained them in bulk for a decent price at Sam’s Club, but alas, we’re bringing Chicago Style Hot Dogs to Chatham, IL, a quaint suburb of Springfield in Central Illinois. 

We then went to the nearest wholesale food distributor and inquired about the brand of all-beef hot dog they carry, and soon learned it wasn’t Vienna beef. 

While driving in town one day, I noticed a place known as Country Market and found they sell eight packs of the beloved frank made in Chicago, but, again, the price was not feasible. 

Thankfully, I decided to ask the woman working the register if they order the dogs from the Vienna Beef website. 

“No,” she said, “we get them from a place in Decatur, Illinois.” 

At last, we may have found a decently located local distributor. A short fifty minute drive later and we soon learned we can get every item we need from food stuffs to paper stuffs, and crap to clean any messes we make. 

And with a minimum $200.00 order, they’ll deliver.