Although Isthmus hit the streets today discussing the area's options for hot dogs in the wake of the closing of both Mad Dogs and The Dawg House, we learned today that Mad Dogs -- that's the one on Henry Street, next to Four Star Video -- is back in business after having been shuttered for almost a year.
Steve Nelson, for the last five years food director at Madison's Bethel Lutheran, has taken over the stand and opened it early this week, although he hasn't been publicizing the "soft" open in order to get the operation well on its feet. The grand opening is slated for July 20.
In early June, Nelson was having a snack with friends at the nearby Cosi on Johnson Street, and "felt like having a hot dog." Going around the corner to the Mad Dog's site, he saw it was for sale and thought "You know, I think that I could make that happen." Nelson has run restaurants previously in Michigan and likes it: "You get the fever," he says. "It's not romantic and it's not rocket science," he says, but he gets considerable satisfaction from serving people food.
Nelson has made some menu changes from the last incarnation of Mad Dog's, although he intends to keep the name (and the awning). No more Vienna dogs; Nelson uses 1/4-lb. Hebrew Nationals. He's added a veggie dog and dropped the Polish sausage from the menu. He slow-roasts his own Italian beef and slices it thin; the sandwich comes topped with Provolone cheese. Also homemade from scratch are coleslaw, baked beans and chili.
Hot dogs can be ordered as you like them, as Chicago Dogs, as chili cheese dogs, or other combos, with customers circling add-ons on order sheets.
Current specials are $2 hot dogs and a pulled pork sandwich with baked beans or coleslaw as a side and a soda for $5.
Hours will be 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Wed., 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Thurs.-Sat. and noon-6 p.m. on Sun.