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The House that Doggs Built

Al Parker - December 1st, 2008
Sometimes the business world moves in mysterious ways.
For example, before launching his restaurant in Traverse City almost three years ago, House of Doggs (HOD) owner Nick McAllister eyed a sweet Union Street location that he was unable to nail down. So he opened HOD in a converted house near the east end of Front Street.
After a couple of years, McAllister was able to relocate – right to the site he had originally wanted for his popular hot dog palace.
“The move has worked out great,” says McAllister, who opened in the new location on June 4. “We’re right where we wanted to be and we even have eight convenient parking spots for customers in the rear.”
Like the former location, the new-and-improved House of Doggs reflects McAllister’s love of music and pays a not-so-subtle homage to the House of Blues. Guitars, record albums, posters and dozens of photos, plus an assortment of pop bottle caps, cover the walls and tabletops. Neon signs punctuate the scene, while a mélange of music videos play as customers enjoy their dogs.

“I had this huge music collection in the basement,” he explains. “And I wanted to use it to decorate the restaurant. Then we named the different hot dogs after the musical genres.”
The move gives HOD a lot more room – it now seats 45 – and made an expanded, more efficient kitchen possible. McAllister was able to add some new fryer items, including onion rings, which have proven very popular with customers.
The heart of the business remains the tasty lineup of dogs – premium Kent Viennas dressed in more than a dozen different ways.
In one quick swoop, McAllister slips a Kent Vienna into a fresh bun and slathers it with chili, onions and mustard. The result is a Motown – the most popular item on the HOD menu.
In addition to the Motown, other HOD favorites include:
• Rock, with chili, cheese, ketchup, mustard, pickle and onion.
• Country, with chili, ketchup, mustard, pickle and onion.
• R and B, with chili, sauerkraut, ketchup, mustard, pickle and onion.
• Reggae, with sauerkraut, pickle and mustard.
• Blues, with chili and cheese.
• Salsa, with chili, jalapeño, hot sauce, onion and celery salt.
• Jazz, with chili, fire mustard, hot sauce, jalapeño, banana pepper, onion and celery salt.
• Chicago, with tomato, pickle, onion, sport pepper, mustard and celery salt.
• Grand Funk, with Flint coney sauce, mustard and onions.

Also on the HOD menu are brats, burgers, loose coneys, tacos and chicken tenders, Greek and Caesar salads and wings.
“Summer was awesome,” recalls McAllister. “And now we’re offering specials every day.”
For example, Monday is two-for one Blues Dogs; Tuesday is two-for-the-price-of-one; Wednesday is half-off coneys; Thursday is buy a dog, get a drink; Friday is wear your HOD t-shirt and get free fries with the purchase of a dog.
“One of our best specials is Sundays when customers can get a free kids meal with the purchase of an adult combo,” says McAllister. “It’s a way we can help folks get value in these tough economic times.”

One highlight of the HOD summer was its ongoing dog-eating contest, when a Traverse City man walked in off the street and gobbled 17 dogs in an hour. It’s a record that still stands, but could be broken at any time.
“It’s an ongoing thing,” says McAllister, with a smile. “Anybody can walk in and challenge it. If they break the record, they get free dogs, a free t-shirt and their name on the plaque.”
A graphic artist, McAllister was living in Rockford, but grew weary of commuting to work in Battle Creek. He began dreaming about moving to Traverse City and opening a hot dog place. He even designed the logo and built the signage. When he was laid off from his job, McAllister figured the time was right to move.
“Our goal is to provide a clean, comfortable place for people to come in and enjoy a meal,” says McAllister. “We want to give everyone their favorite hot dog. That’s why we have so many different types on the menu.
Located at 120 S. Union Street, the House of Doggs is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call (231) 922-1348.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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