Battle Creek

Serious Dog finds permanent Battle Creek home for specialty hot dog biz that has been on wheels

Editor's note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave's On the Ground Battle Creek series.

One might be forgiven for thinking the odds were not in the Woodin brother's favor when they opened a mobile hot dog business this summer in Battle Creek. But their gamble paid off and the success of their operation has led to a brick and mortar location on 20th Street.

The permanent location for Serious Dogs is scheduled to open during the first week of December at 55 South 20th Street in a building that formerly housed Weezer’s restaurant. This represents a new way of doing business for the brothers who have been operating out of a trailer that they stripped and rebuilt to accommodate the ovens, grills, pots, and pans that they use to cook and top their hot dogs.

The success of their food truck venture convinced them to find a permanent location, Thomas Woodin says.

Thomas Woodin, at left, and his brother James, in front of their food truck in Battle Creek.“As the summer went along we realized that we were getting groups of people that we were seeing on a regular basis and a lot of newcomers,” he says. “It seemed like the business was building itself without a lot of marketing. We decided to open in a brick and mortar location because we have a loyal following.”

In an earlier story, James Woodin had said that he and his brother were looking for a location that would allow them to continue serving up their hot dogs during the colder months. They will continue to use their trailer, while also operating the restaurant, during warmer months when outdoor dining is a more popular option.

They are leasing to own the 20th Street building which has 2,500 square feet of space on the main level where the restaurant is housed. That area’s total occupancy is 86, but Woodin says they will be at 50 percent of that capacity to adhere to social distancing guidelines during the pandemic.

In addition to dine-in service, there also will be take-out and curbside service available and delivery through Eats BC.

A team of three full-time employees and four part-time workers will wait on customers and make and serve the hot dogs that have become a part of Battle Creek’s culinary options.

“We’ll start with 16 different varieties of hot dogs,” Woodin says. “We also can make any dog a veggie dog or take any of the combinations and make them as a grilled cheese sandwich. We’re also going to add a kid’s menu.”

The top three bestselling dogs are the Coney Dog, the Bacon Cheese Dog, and the Chicago Style Dog, he says.

The restaurant is giving the Woodins an opportunity to expand their menu to include sandwiches which, like the hot dogs will be served on their New England style rolls, special-ordered from a location in Chicago that James Woodin would not disclose.

“You can’t get them anywhere else,” he says. “We prepare them similar to the buns used in Lobster Rolls by splitting them, buttering both sides and placing them on the grill so customers get a little bit of crunch when they bite into them.”

The buns used are larger than the average bun to accommodate the hot dogs which each weigh just under a quarter of a pound.

“We will still have the French fries and tater tots that we served out of our food truck and will also have onion rings and fried cheese curds, baked beans, and coleslaw,” Thomas Woodin says. “This would have been too much to do out of the food truck, but with the restaurant, we’ll be able to expand the menu and offer more items.”

There also will be a touchless screen Coca-Cola Freestyle machine that will dispense 60 different drink variations of coke mixed with other flavors.

Thomas Woodin says he and his brother are ready to make their mark on the local food scene.

“Our hot dogs are unlike anything else available here and we are looking forward to growing our customer base and serving the people of Battle Creek and other communities.”
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Read more articles by Jane Parikh.

Jane Parikh is a freelance reporter and writer with more than 20 years of experience and also is the owner of In So Many Words based in Battle Creek. She is the Project Editor for On the Ground Battle Creek.