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Tastemakers: Japa Dog/ Jack Archiable

Rick Coates - February 22nd, 2010
Japa Dog
One of the biggest hits of the 2010 Winter Olympics has been the Japa Dog. No, this is not some new competition or the name of a hip snowboarder; rather it is the hot dog stand in Vancouver. Make that three stands. It has been one of the culinary highlights of this year’s Winter Olympics. While Vancouver has a diverse culinary scene, it has been Japa Dog that has been the talk of the town.
The concept was started five years ago when Japanese immigrant Noriki Tamura moved to Vancouver and traded his professional career for a hot dog cart. But what set his cart apart from others were two things: his smiling face (regulars say Tamura smiles all the time regardless of the weather) and the Japanese style condiments he uses. His most popular selling dog is the Spicy Cheese Terimayo that consists of a jalapeno cheese dog topped with teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo and seaweed.
There are dogs with fried cabbage, bonito flake, soy sauce plum sauce, edamame and more. Tamura plans to offer a Kobe Beef dog soon, as well. Prices range from $4 to $7, depending on the condiments, and the reviews have been positive. Several celebrity chefs have visited and Tamura and his Japa Dog have appeared on several food shows and television news programs around the world.
So with added exposure of the Olympics (reports of people waiting more that 60 minutes to get one), will Japa Dog become a franchise? We have a few great hot dog joints in Northern Michigan with House of Doggs in Traverse City and its fantastic menu, but will say, Red Ginger or someone else start offering hot dogs with Japanese condiments? Or does one have to fly to Vancouver to get one? I think a Japa Dog and cold local microbrew would make a great pairing this summer. Of course, no need to wait, I am headed to Burritt’s Market to pick up some homemade dogs and having my own Japa Dog night at home with my family. -- Rick Coates

Jack Archiable
As I walked around the very successful Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival last week, I was in awe. While sipping a microbrew I flashed back 20 years to the very infancy of the craftbrew industry in Michigan, in particular Northern Michigan. It is easy to get caught up in the moment, and for thousands who were enjoying this first ever festival, the pioneers of this business are faceless. But as I walked around I realized that I was enjoying this moment because guys like Jack Archiable brewed the way for it. Twenty years ago Archiable had a vision, and along with partner John Edstrom, they launched Traverse Brewing Company, the first microbrewery in the region.
Craftbrewed beers are in today, but in the early years it was a mêlée. Archiable fought that battle with passion. Industry insiders labeled it a fad, beer distributors were cautious, and bars and restaurants often were slow to go with unknown brews when American and Imported beers were a sure thing. Traverse Brewing Company broke through and made its way on tap and on store shelves; beers like Manitou and Sleeping Bear Brown built a following.
Often, pioneers do not get to reap the benefits of their efforts, and despite award-winning beers, Traverse Brewing Company fell victim to an industry shake-up that saw some craftbreweries close their doors. While Traverse Brewing Company as a brand may no longer be with us, in many ways their beers are -- just the next generation of them. See, not only did Archiable pave the way, he inspired others. Joe Short of Shorts Brewing Company and Russ Springsteen and John Niedermaier of Right Brain Brewery all worked for Archiable as brewers before launching their successful breweries in Northern Michigan. Joe Short has repaid his former employer by hiring Archiable to work for him at his new brewery production facility in Elk Rapids.
So the next time you raise a pint of your favorite craftbrew from Northern Michigan, raise it in honor of Jack Archiable and the others whose pioneering efforts to change laws and make the financial investments have made it possible for Northern Michigan to have craft breweries and beer festivals. Cheers Jack and thank you. --Rick Coates
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