Photos by Caitlin Abrams
Prairie Dogs Hot Dogs
Talk about journeys. Who would have thought that opening a hot dog bar would take so long? Like most restaurants, Prairie Dogs Hot Dogs and Handcrafted Sausage started out as a brilliant idea in the mind of a young cook, Craig Johnson. We have enough burger places in town, why not more dedicated hot dog shops, right? Johnson paired up with local consulting legend, chef Tobie Nidetz, and created a plan for an eatery with housemade sausages and hot dogs topped with creative ingredients. Beyond kraut and sport peppers, it would upscale the humble dog with tasty bits like foie gras and Sriracha. Great idea!
So, let’s talk money, because that’s what it takes to make dreams into reality. The pair did its due diligence, popping up in other people’s kitchens and hosting dinners (like the Travailians did, like Brut is doing now) so that they could build a fan base and awareness before launching a Kickstarter. It failed, they didn’t get the funds. But instead of giving up, they regrouped and worked hard to find small investors. With a clutch group, Johnson and Nidetz found a way to sign a lease in the former Gray House spot that needed a light cosmetic changeup. After a second Kickstarter campaign didn’t work, the duo set up an online store where the same rewards were straight up for sale, without the time limits. Slowly and surely, the coffers filled to the needed levels and the shop has opened.
With tenacity and a passionate commitment to making this happen (lest the hot dog tattoo on Johnson’s arm be for naught), the kitchen is finally slinging dogs. Order a house lamb merguez sausage with piquillo peppers and feta, or a duck fat-fried Pliny The Elder dog topped with foie gras and apple relish. They also have chili cheese fries, a buttermilk-fried chicken sandwich, and their version of poutine, called foietine, with double-fried fries, cheese curds, braised lamb neck, and foie gravy. You’ll understand why they persevered after a bite of that—it tastes like victory.
610 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-223-8984, prairiedogsausage.com