Even on a cool and rainy Saturday, there are people lined up along 27th Street from the back door of Dutch and Co. At the front of the line and manning a black backyard grill is chef Caleb Shriver, cooking up a rack of sausages and talking to everyone waiting. His wife and partner Michelle Peake is back and forth, taking orders and payment and passing out boxed hot dog lunches.
“What’s the word?,” Caleb asks, turning the sausages and collecting the cooked hot dogs onto a tray. A couple from Grace Street talks with Caleb about their recent engagement, the conversation turns to Caleb and Michelle’s recent trip to Holland.
The crowd is here for Dutch and Co.’s weekly one-hour Saturday-only homemade hot dog sale from the backdoor of the restaurant (AKA “Back Door Dogs”). Between 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM, on these hot dog Saturdays, they’ll sell 35 – 80 boxed lunches. This week it’s a pork, apple, and blue cheese dog with caramelized onions and a housemade fall-spiced orange soda. Two weeks ago it was bratwurst with braised cabbage; before that they offered pigskin cornbread-battered corn dogs. Variations on a theme, with a stroopwafel, all for $10.
“Caleb this looks glorious!,” says the girl at the front of the line on receiving the first dog of the day.
“I absolutely love coming down here, it’s my Saturday thing…they’re amazing”, says Marin, a neighbor from the other end of the block waiting with her two dogs (Widget and Wally).
The buns come from WPA Bakery across the street, the sodas and dogs are made in house. Making the hotdogs takes two or three hours of prep work, Caleb says. It takes 30 minutes just to stuff the sausages, and smoking or poaching adds time.
When asked why they started doing the weekly sale, Caleb says “We’ve got a back door, it’d be stupid to not use it.” Initially thinking that they’d use the back door to hand out snacks for people waiting for a table, it occurred to Shriver and Peake (and partner Phillip Perrow) that “we might as well sell stuff…and hot dogs are delicious. People enjoy hot dogs no matter how old they are”.
The corner is bustling. Even after the initial wave is fed, a steady walk up crowd keeps Michelle and Caleb busy. Everyone in line is sociable and seems to know at least one other person waiting.
“It’s cool for the neighborhood,” says Caleb. “It wouldn’t work if it wasn’t in a neighborhood.”
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