When Andrew Jorgensen and Cody Swede decided to quit their full-time jobs to open a hot dog joint in Stadium Village this summer, their families thought they were crazy.
But the two 20-something recent University of St. Thomas graduates said their loved ones have since come around after realizing their idea âÄî a cheap, grab-and-go hot dog establishment âÄî was a staple in nearly every other college community in the Midwest.
The pair plans to open Hot Diggity Dog, which will be the only hot dog restaurant in Stadium Village, on Aug. 22 at 614 Washington Ave. The space has been vacant since Village Pizza moved out in the spring due to financial issues.
Jorgensen and Swede promised to have âÄúthe cheapest menu in Stadium Village,âÄù where a meal âÄî a fully-dressed dog, drink and bag of chips âÄî will be in the $5 range.
Hot Diggity Dog will serve the classic Chicago dog, brats, traditional coneys and a handful of other regional favorites.
Nancy Rose Pribyl, president of the Stadium Village Commercial Association, said she has seen a lot of businesses come and go during her two decades working in the area, but Jorgensen and Swede may be on to something.
âÄúI think the idea of something you can grab in your hand and walk with is a perfect fit for this area,âÄù she said. âÄúIt is definitely something a college community can support.âÄù
Despite her optimism, Pribyl said the young business partners are facing an uphill battle.
Heavy Central Corridor light-rail construction, a struggling economy and unpredictable student spending habits will all present significant challenges, she said.
âÄúThey will definitely need some creativity to get over the initial hump,âÄù she said, pointing out the fact that large chain restaurants like Taco Bell only lasted two or three years, while some small family businesses have been in the area for decades.
âÄúItâÄôs very unpredictable.âÄù
They also face competition across the Washington Avenue Bridge. The Wienery has been serving hot dogs in Cedar-Riverside for more than two decades.
A similar eatery, Uncle FrankyâÄôs, occupied a space in Dinkytown for two years, but closed in fall 2010.
Despite the locationâÄôs cramped space and construction just outside the door, Jorgensen said they âÄúcouldnâÄôt have found a better locationâÄù and that it suits the nature of a hot dog stand.
Jorgenson and Swede are going all-in on their idea because they believe they must in order to avoid becoming replaceable in todayâÄôs job market, they said.
âÄúIt is important to work to make your own dreams come true,âÄù Swede said. âÄúNot the dreams of others.âÄù
In addition to a variety of region-inspired dogs, the duo will offer Italian beef sandwiches and brats as part of the menu.
For at least the first month of business, Hot Diggity Dog will offer a buy-one-get-one special on any of their dogs during the lunch rush Monday through Wednesday. In addition, they hope to capture the bar crowds by staying open until 3 a.m. on the weekends.
Swede and Jorgensen hope to follow in the footsteps of the similar college hot dog stands after which theyâÄôve modeled themselves to capture the loyalty of the University of Minnesota community.
âÄúNothing says âÄòAmerican DreamâÄô like two idiots just out of college starting a restaurant,âÄù Swede said.