In the house
|By Allan I. Ross|
Downtown restaurant and bar gets franks
“I keep giving hot dogs to the workers out front to try and speed this thing along,” said Matt (who declined to give his last name), the general manager at Downtown Dog House, as he looked out the window. “I’ve been in the restaurant business for 20 years, and never have I been through a challenge like this.”
That challenge consists of the following elements: A.) Opening a new concept restaurant B.) two months before the establishment’s liquor license was approved (no problems, just lots of hoops) on C.) a one-way street that’s completely closed to traffic until September for D.) noisy, dusty construction in E.) a downtown that’s still struggling to stay alive after 5 p.m.
“We found out two weeks before we opened that all this was going to be going on,” said Audrey Orr, who co-owns the restaurant that opened May 22 with several other partners. “Talk about bad timing.”
“So far, business has been pretty good,” Matt said. “As far as I know, no one’s ever put this concept together. You can have a gourmet hot dog, drink a beer and watch the game. You won’t get a generic hot dog here.”
“We spent a lot of time online looking up hot dog styles in other cities,” Orr said. “I couldn’t believe just how many ways there are to put together a hot dog.”
Downtown Dog House has 18 different dishes made with nearly a half dozen different kinds of dogs, including European brats, Koegel’s franks, Cajun sausages and the only Lansing original on the menu — the “Downtown” Dog.
Also known as the Hamburger Hot Dog, the “Downtown” Dog ($5.99) isn’t actually a hot dog at all. It’s ground beef rolled into a cylinder around oozy cheddar cheese and stuffed into a hot dog bun. Throw some ketchup, mustard, onion and relish on this bad boy, close your eyes and take a bite, and it’s indistinguishable from a hot-off-the-grill burger.
For those who prefer to actually know all the ingredients in their food, Downtown Dog House has a selection of non-hot dog appetizers, including fresh salads, loaded baked potatoes, paninis and phenomenal beer-battered, sweet Vidalia onion rings ($6.95). There’s also a rotating selection of homemade soups and chilis.
Score one for the grown-ups.
Downtown Dog House, 10:30 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. 107 E. Allegan St., Lansing. (517) 316-2312.