Do you know what Philadelphia needs? MORE hot dogs!
Robert Soto, 27, Ryan Donohue, 28, and Andrew Pilalides, 29, are three young, enterprising men on a mission to give Philadelphia more hot dogs.
“It all started as a silly inside joke,” Soto explained to Philly Grub. “We were joking around one night about opening a small concession-style hot dog place. And after tossing the joke around quite a bit, the idea started sounding better and better.”
So, just for kicks, they decided to start looking at places that could bring the idea to reality. It didn’t take long for them to find the spot.
“One day, Ryan started mentioning this idea to Matt (Inglese), who is the owner and sole operator of 9th Dimension Cafe (1309 South 9th Street), while getting his daily morning matcha tea, and Matt enjoyed the idea,” Soto offered. “We all began talking about using his location as a late-night pop-up when the coffee shop was usually closed, and we agreed to give it a go.”
All three began workshopping concepts and recipes. Soto, who works in IT by day, started developing the menu. As the one with the most culinary experience—he’s worked in many Philadelphia restaurants—including most recently, at nearby Mike’s BBQ, it made the most sense for him to take charge of the food. Donohue, also with hospitality experience, drew on his experience as a bartender for many years contributed his take on what would be fun and crave-able for an early evening or late-night crowd. Pilalides brought his sharp business mind and genius salesmanship to the mix.
With that, Hot Damn Dogs—a weekend, first-come, first-served, cash-only hot dog pop-up—was born.
“The process of coming up with the menu was sparked by whatever we were laughing about at the time, and then somehow we translated that into food reality,” Soto stated. “One example is our Irish Car-Dog, which came about during a conversation about us drinking and wanting to drink more.”
With little overhead, a space secured, and the menu conceived, they turned to their friend, art illustrator, and fashion designer Hallie Nicole Shoshanna, to create a logo and flyer. With only a week to promote, they set up an Instagram account and let word of mouth take over.
The debut pop-up, hosted this past Saturday at the South Philly cafe, sold out in only a few hours. They did it again on Sunday only to sell out again.
For now, the plan is to keep doing the weekend-only pop-up with an eye to the future, where they might take it on the road or to a more prominent location.
In the meantime, if you have the weekend munchies, head to 9th & Sears, just a block south of the infamous 9th & Passyunk intersection for creative hot dogs, using Nathan’s franks on Conshohocken Italian Bakery rolls, like:
🌭 The Pork-E Pig (bacon-wrapped hot dog with pulled pork, shredded cheddar, and BBQ sauce);
🌭 The Mike Bison (spicy bison chili with ghost peppers and shredded cheddar);
🌭 The Cubano Dog (pulled pork, ham, Swiss cheese, jalapeno relish, and pickles);
🌭 The Irish Car-Dog (chopped corn beef, sour cream mashed potatoes, and Guinness braised onions);
🌭 The Big Kahuna Dog (spam jam, pineapple stew, and chopped pineapples);
🌭 The Bark-Mi Dog (cilantro, jalapenos, cukes, pickled carrots, and sweet & spicy mayo).
Each dog is $9 and comes with a bag of Funyuns and a drink!
Bop on over to their Instagram to check out the food porn worthy deliciousness. If you stop by this weekend hopefully before they sell out, let me know your thoughts!
Food enthusiast. Travel lover. Social media maven.
Independent Journalist. Food marketing/PR expert.