Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Downtown hot dog cart sells late-night snacks

You step out of Monopole and into the crowded back alley, surrounded by cigarette smokers and bouncers in yellow shirts. It’s 1 a.m., and you’re starving. Pizza Bono looks promising, but you only have $2 left.  Wait, you see smoking rising from a grill across the street.  You’ve been saved — they’re serving $1 hot dogs.

On any Thursday, Friday or Saturday night in Plattsburgh, you can find the popular hot dog stand you’re always hearing about on the corner of Margaret and Bridge Street.

For four years, Andrew Harris of Schuyler Falls has been the owner of the late-night hot dog stand. He has been doing business across the street from the Green Room.

He and his wife, Crystal Harris, take their regular post no earlier than 9:30 p.m. on popular nights and usually turn the grill off around 3:30 a.m.

Word has spread among college students about the popular hot dog stand that sells late-night food like hot dogs, Michigans and nachos at an affordable price.

Plattsburgh State senior Derrick Ruiz said his first time seeing the cart was this past summer.

“I walked out of Green Room at 1:30, and I see this amazing stand,” he said. “I asked myself, ‘Is that the hot dog man?’”

Ruiz said he approached the stand, bought two hot dogs and ate them in the time it took him to walk down the street to Off the Hookah to finish his night downtown. Ruiz said they were so good that he went back for round two.

“We stay until downtown dies down,” Crystal said.

“I remember leaving Green Room and thinking Bonos, but then I looked across the street at the hot dog guy,” PSUC junior Marty Timperio said.

“I was like ‘this is going to be a lot cheaper.’”

Andrew sells his regular hot dogs for $1.

“I save $5 because I know I’m going to want a hot dog later,” Ruiz said.

Andrew doesn’t ever change the prices of his food. Besides street vending, they take the cart on the road to the Essex and Westport County Fairs.

“We have the cheapest dogs in town,” he said.

Crystal’s favorite hot dog is the Whistle Dog. This specialty is a hot dog placed between bacon and melted cheddar cheese.

Her husband disagreed. “Michigans,” he said. Michigans, hot dogs with a meat sauce that has a kick, are famous in the Plattsburgh area.

“I was brought up on them. It’s my grandmother’s sauce from way back and has been in the family for generations and generations,” he said.

Besides hot dogs, they also make burgers, sausages and nachos. Andrew said they are planning to have a new cart soon. They will also be expanding their menu with the new stand because it will have more space. They will offer the option of regular French fries and poutine,  fries covered in hot gravy and cheese curds. The stand will be in the same location, but the difference is it will be closed in, so it will be warmer on cooler nights.

He got the idea for the hot dog stand from his younger downtown days. There was another man who sold hot dogs in the same spot that he has set up his business. One night in Lake Placid, he came upon a hot dog cart that reminded him of those downtown nights. He decided it was his turn.

Now he and his wife, always accompanied by a helper, run the hot dog stand throughout the summer. In the winter, Crystal takes over so he can work his other job as a truck driver.

“It’s nice being able to spend time with her and being away from the kids,” he said. “Meeting with the people — it’s just great. I love it.”

“It is the convenience of it that reminds me of home,” Ruiz said, “Being from the city, there is nothing better than a street vendor and his cart.”

Email Lisa Scivolette at lisa.scivolette@cardinalpointsonline.com.

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