- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Years ago, during Washington Redskins games, a young Greggory Hill could be spotted yelling “Hot dogs!” up and down RKF Stadium to make extra money.

Soon, he’ll be selling the iconic American food again. But he won’t have to lug a heavy hot-dog warmer around to do it.

Mr. Hill, head chef of David Greggory Restau Lounge, and the owners of Amsterdam Falafelshop plan to open a restaurant next week that sells only hot dogs.

They’re hoping M’Dawg Haute Dog, at 2418 18th St. NW, is the cat’s meow.

The menu at M’Dawg, pronounced “meh-dog,” reads like a world tour of regional sausages. It starts with a trip to New Jersey for “the Ripper,” a hot dog deep-fried until its skin rips. Then it’s over to Chicago for put-ketchup-on-it-and-you-die “Red Hots,” on to Milwaukee for its old-fashioned “Usinger German bratwursts,” down to New Orleans for its Cajun-style Andouille sausage and back home for the District’s half-smokes.

M’Dawg will also serve Mr. Hill’s own-recipe sausages, vegetarian hot dogs, corn dogs and chili. A Japanese Kobe beef hot dog, a delicacy that will cost about $20, will be on the menu in a few weeks, said co-owner Arianne Bennett.

Co-owner Scott Bennett, Arianne’s husband, calls M’Dawg “a place where the regional hot dog lover can feel at home.”

The menu is still in development and could change based on suggestions from patrons.

“If enough people from Cleveland [talk] about their hot dog, we’ll offer that, too,” Mr. Bennett said. “There are so many in this country. It’s really a beautiful thing.”

People feel strongly about their hometown hot dogs, said Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, a D.C. trade group.

“Maybe it’s because hot dogs are so strongly associated with memories — family outings, picnics, sporting events — they evoke that good feeling,” Ms. Riley said.

Hot-dog stands and restaurants are common in cities such as New York and Chicago. But they’re rare in the Washington area, Ms. Riley said, even though more hot dogs were consumed in the Washington-Baltimore corridor than any metropolitan area except New York and Los Angeles in 2004.

Perhaps the most famous hot-dog restaurant in the city is Ben’s Chili Bowl, which also sells half-smokes. There’s also Weenie Beenie in Shirlington and a handful of hot-dog restaurants in food courts around the region.

“There is a need for a niche, single-item comfort-food [restaurant],” Mr. Hill said.

At M’Dawg, hot dogs will cost $2.50 to $6, Mrs. Bennett said. Traditional condiments such as ketchup, mustard, onions and relish will be free.

But the top dog at M’Dawg will be its toppings bar, which will feature slaws, sauerkrauts, chutneys and cabbages, all made by Mr. Hill and sold for a small extra charge.

That idea came from the Bennetts’ falafel shop, which sells a slew of unlimited toppings for an extra fee.

One of Mr. Hill’s favorite combinations is a hot dog deep-fried with bacon and topped with bleu cheese and romaine lettuce.

“You can really have fun and build — do your own thing,” he said.

Besides hot dogs and toppings, the only other items on the menu will be ripple-cut fries, Rice Krispies treats, gingersnap cookies and root beer floats.

“We’re trying to keep it really simple,” said Mrs. Bennett, who, with her husband, is scouting D.C. locations for a second falafel shop. “We’ve found if you can really focus on one food and do it well, people really come to it.”

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