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Hot dog helper


pennbrew
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I'm on the verge of opening a new small brewery with a tap room. By law in PA, I must serve food to qualify for the "brewery pub" license. Not having the money to fit out a real kitchen, I have an electric chafing dish in which I plan to heat hot dogs "dirty-water" style.

I love german-style wieners, pork-based dogs with natural casing. In Germany they're served naked on a plate with a roll and a sploosh of mustard. You pick them up, dip the end in the mustard, and eat. Here's a picture of how it looks (minus the mustard):

gallery_15947_2995_11286.jpg

My question, is this too foreign/strange for Americans? I'm getting a lot of flak about my hot-dog-only menu, but it's all I can afford at this time. Unless I have food catered in which may be an option down the road.

Thanks for any advice!

---Guy

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Sounds great to me. But I'm not most people.

What is the nature of the flak: that you'll only serve hot dogs, or you'll only serve this hot dog on a plate, not a bun?

If the customer wants to have the dog on a traditional side-sliced American hot dog roll, let them. Seems to me it wouldn't be too hard to have some plain American hot dog rolls around, and serve the Pork dog you like, though it might be a good idea to have a second chafing dish with an all-beef dog for those who prefer that style.

As for broadening the menu for beer-friendly food without significant kitchen investment and staffing expense:

Homemade chili (keep it in a slow cooker during business hours)

High quality cheese and cold-cut plates

I'm sure there are lots of other real simple ideas out there. But gotta run now.

Edited to add following:

I'm back. If you want to stick with some German theme, how about:

Leberkäse sandwiches (nothing more than a cold cut) on good rye bread

Herrings (they keep nearly forever in the fridge)

Cook those hot dogs in your beer. Perhaps mit kraug.

Consider a few other wursts (brat, weiss, knack, etc.) to keep in the fridge and cook to order in an electric skillet with kraut, beer.

Edited by rlibkind (log)

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Where in Pennsylvania will your brewery/tap room be?

You say the hot dogs are in an electric chaffing dish is all you can afford right now. If the budget is that tight, have you seriously examined the entire proposition? Can you afford a refrigerator? A sandwich station? What type of space will you have for food prep?

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Wonder if you could steam the meat? If you could afford that. In Chicago I understand if people have gotten their first order of meat free and a fridge to put it in. Wonder if a steam table deal is the same.

Hmmn steaming with beer water mix. I'm hungry now.

From memory a table top large capacity steamer is not too expensive. Gotta be many at restaurant liquidators, Ebay and the like.

Coca Cola distributors here will supply a refrigerated case. And I see all the time those stocked 1/2 soda 1/2 "food" for lack of better term.

Coca Cola does distribute bottled water wonder if they would make it look like a Dasani cooler ass opposed to Coke. Would be nice to have some diet coke on hand and the like.

"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats

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O.K...I know you want to serve hotdogs but....and there is always a but...The first place to research is the Health Dept. Find out what the rules are for what you want to do...then go from there.

Most Health departments will let you get away with an electric griddle because they dont have fumes from gass and no open flames. You can even use a panini grill if you really wanted to with no ventelation system needed.

You will still need a three bay sink and mechanical refrigeration.

This also depends on how many "servings" you plan on selling.

If there is a will there is a way.

Also, Check this place out...http://www.griddleworld.com

Cadco PCG-10C Griddle

Griddle, elec., 21" x 12" cast grill area, charcoal grey non-stick cooking surface, even heat up to 425°F, cool-touch s/s handles, removable s/s splash guard & grease tray, 3-prong SJTO cordset, 120v, 1500w, 12.5A, UL

Cost $108.49

Also Most HD's will allow a stove..in which you can put a griddle top on it.

Hotdogs. Sabrett Hotdogs are good for either steaming or griddle. Papaya King in new york serves these....dont be fooled...I have researched them for three years and I have seen the boxes in the back. They also serve the Saabrett brown mustard...this is big on the East coast. Sabrett is out of N.J.

Serving a "dirty water" dog does take alot of watching over them. When you are grilling them...If the temp is low enough...they can be held and served at the prop temp.

Grilling them gives the a snap when you bite into them, this is because the skin tightens around the hotdog themselves.

I dont work for Sabrett...there are other good dogs out there as well. I think BoarsHead makes one as well as some other companies out in N.J.

Hope this helps.

Also...If you are thinking of expanding your menu...no doubt...you will have to make the investiment.

If you are planning on steaming them...I would get something like a used two or three bay steam table. This way you can heat the dogs as well as the condiments...i.e Kraut

Magus.

Edited by Magus (log)

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Are you actually interested in serving food, or are you only doing it because the law requires it? I mean, if your customers don't really want food, can you just post a small sign that says "hot dogs $100" and keep a package of Ball Parks in the back next to the microwave? :smile: On the other hand, if your customers do want food, maybe you need to do some more thinking about what kind of place you are opening up.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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... can you just post a small sign that says "hot dogs $100" and keep a package of Ball Parks in the back next to the microwave?  :smile:

:blink: did he just say Ball Parks and Microwave....

Yeah, kind makes ya sick to think about it... but if it is obeying the law... besides, at $100/each I doubt many people would take him up on it... :biggrin:

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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... can you just post a small sign that says "hot dogs $100" and keep a package of Ball Parks in the back next to the microwave?  :smile:

:blink: did he just say Ball Parks and Microwave....

Yeah, kind makes ya sick to think about it... but if it is obeying the law... besides, at $100/each I doubt many people would take him up on it... :biggrin:

:laugh: and I thought $100 was a typo...

A balanced diet starts...with a burger for each hand...

http://nineburgers.blogspot.com/

Be part of the click!

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Thanks for all the responses.

Yes the motivation is to satisfy the regulations. My concept is all about the beer, the food is a necessity to get the pub license. Come in, try a beer or 2, buy a growler or bomber or 6-pack to go. I really don't want people hanging around drinking for a few hours and all the problems that can go with that.

I'm the brewer, chef, bartender, accountant, purchasing agent, janitor, etc. so I don't have the time or energy to tackle anything more ambitious. And anything else that requires real equipment (fryer, stove, grill, etc.) with a hood and ansul system is out of the question anyway. Making something at home isn't an option either, I can't risk my serving license over a crockpot of chili or lamb stew. Just heat up the chafing dish on the end of the bar, dump in the hot dogs and be done with it. Maybe chafing dish is the wrong term, it's an electric steam table (? steam tray??) with three deep 1/3 size pans.

Can you really get away with an electric grill/griddle/skillet on the bar without a hood?? I want to minimize the chance for objections when the Dept. of Ag. comes in for my health certificate inspection.

I have a good source for german-style dogs. I'd love to do bratwurst, but they require a grill if you want to do them right. If cash flow becomes positive and there's a demand for real food I'll go in that direction. My ideal menu would be described as German Cajun BBQ Fish Fry Pizzeria. I can make a mean pot of red beans or goulash over spaetzle. But that's more like Phase 3 than Phase 1 or 2.

I know I'm breaking a lot of rules doing it this way. But if I'm going to get into business this is they way it has to be. Low investment, no debt, minimal overhead, no payroll (or UC insurance). Just me and my beer. My original idea was a workbench for a bar with a keg of beer in a tub of ice. Thanks to ebay, restaurant auctions, an understanding landlord and a few extremely hard-working friends it'll be much nicer than that. See picture below for the progress of the tap room. Notice the Quiznos barstools, $12 each at an auction.

gallery_15947_2995_20087.jpg

It's in Berwick. PLCB mandates 30 seat minimum (I have 10 barstools and five four-tops) and food on hand to feed 30. That's what they require so that's what I'll have.

Oh, and no smoking.

So back to the original question, would naked german dogs be too weird for most people?

Thanks!

---Guy

Edited by pennbrew (log)
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As I said earlier, naked hot dogs should be supplemented with regular hot dog rolls. I mean, how hard is that?

I also guess you're skirting with the law. Be prepared for hassles.

Yup, I can offer them both.

I'm not trying to skirt the law, simply doing no more than what's needed to be in compliance and minimizing any possible objections. I figure the simpler I keep it the *less* chance for hassles, no?

Thanks!

---Guy

Edited to add: Maybe I mis-spoke above when I said "I'm breaking a lot of rules". I don't mean the regulations, I meant the conventional-wisdom-type "rules" of how to operate a successful business. I'm certainly planning to be compliant with all food service and PLCB rules and regulations.

Edited by pennbrew (log)
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I'll not get into the legal hassles but if your beer is German in style, if you set a minimal Germanic decor (ratskeller), your sausages (which must be excellent in quality) are called "wurst" and you serve them with nothing but good mustard (ideally German senf) and good quality rolls there is no reason why it shouldn't take off like hotcakes! Considering offering as well a few different high quality cheeses, butter and rolls as a separate order or as part of the wurst platter.

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I'll not get into the legal hassles but if your beer is German in style, if you set a minimal Germanic decor (ratskeller), your sausages (which must be excellent in quality) are called "wurst" and you serve them with nothing but good mustard (ideally German senf) and good quality rolls there is no reason why it shouldn't take off like hotcakes!  Considering offering as well a few different high quality cheeses, butter and rolls as a separate order or as part of the wurst platter.

Thanks! I'd love to find a good commercial source of real "mittelscharfer Senf".

---Guy

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Guy,

In Germany the dogs are prepared the way you pictured them. My niece spent a lot of time in Germany and enjoyed her dogs that way. Though traditional, I don't know how that would fly here. In my opinion, heating in water is better suited for all beef dogs. I know you're not a fan of them, but you're looking to satisfy your customers. A German style beef and pork dog tastes better on a griddle or fried. Again, my opinion. I love beer, especially German style microbrewed beer. In fact, I think we know some of the same people. Nothing goes better with a hot dog than beer. And vice versa. Good luck. By the way, would your source happen to be the Union Pork Store?

John the hot dog guy

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Pub license?

I thought that in Pennsylvania, all liquor licenses fell into one of two categories: "restaurant" and "hotel". It was my understanding that bars and brewpubs are all classed as restaurants for licensing purposes, but that restaurants and bars in hotels operate under the hotel's license (hence the Society Hill Hotel Bar & Grill in Old City Philly, IIRC).

I also thought that the big issue had to do with Sunday sales -- namely, if you want to serve alcohol on Sundays and you have a "restaurant" license, you had to earn a minimum percentage of your revenues (again IIRC, 30) from the sale of food. I think that there are several bars that have taken the approach to serving food that you plan to for this reason -- and at least one I know of that doesn't even pay the rule lip service in this fashion. (Then again, there is now a B&B hotel above this bar, so the issue may be moot.)

Did the Liquor Control Board create another category of license?

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

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All breweries in PA need a brewery license. A second license, the "brewery pub" license, can also be obtained for a pub or tap room. It allows sale of own-brewed beers and PA made wines. No liquor or other beers or "foreign" wine allowed. A Sunday license can also be had for an additional $300. The PLCB did away with the % food sales requirement for the Sunday license a while ago.

A licensed brewery pub can also obtain a liquor license if it so chooses (if it can find and afford one). I'm not interested in a liquor license at this point.

In any event, seating and food service for 30 people is required.

---Guy

Edited by pennbrew (log)
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No food percent of sales requirement like in Sunday Sales?

I'm not a fan of half-ass, even to get around the law. Hot dogs sitting on a steam table for a few hours will not speak well of your pub unless to match the green beer you serve on St. Patrick's Day. That said, if you keep the dogs fresh, throw away those that don't sell in a reasonable time, I'd be just as happy to get a couple of excellent quality dogs on a plate with a top quality German mustard and maybe a good relish or kraut.

Consider steeping the dog in beer. Ties in with your being a brew pub. How about knackwurst, steeped in beer, and spit and served on a fresh kaiser roll. Or instead of fresh brats, cooked brats.

What about not cooking at all? Cold sandwiches. Maybe Lebanon bologna on a good bread, with aged swiss and a slather of Düsseldorf mustard.

Are pickled pigs feet and pickled eggs enough food? Beer Nuts? "Everybody loves Beer Nuts."

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I'm not a fan of half-ass, even to get around the law. 

Don't worry, if I wanted to do it half-assed I'd just buy the cheapest bulk hot dogs at Sams Club. Even though I'm keeping it simple it has to be good.

---Guy

Edited by pennbrew (log)
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One of the better brew pub meals I remember was a wurst platter--three or four different types, with a side of homemade kraut, mustard and a pretzel. No rolls for the wurst, but knife/fork was an option. :biggrin:

I'm good with the idea of no rolls, but from a "give the customer what they want" perspective, consider keeping a stash of rolls on hand to take care of requests.

What can you tell us about the beer?

John

"I can't believe a roasted dead animal could look so appealing."--my 10 year old upon seeing Peking Duck for the first time.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Update:

The Dept. of Ag. Health inspector came on Monday. He liked everything he saw; the only hold-up is he wants a hand wash sink in the brewery. This despite the fact that the hand wash sink in the tap room is only about 6 feet away. He also needs me to have the occupancy permit before he can issue the health certificate--that was my mistake as I had believed the opposite order of events. So I'm working to complete the last few items for the Borough's codes officer.

So I'm still inching towards the starting line...

---Guy

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Do you have a food manager's certificate?

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Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

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