Wrigleyville shocked us with their hot dogs, and we had to learn more. The taste of this beef lovingly nuzzled into a fluffy bun, drooling with the juice of a real tomato makes you forsake your memories and pledge allegiance to Vienna and Chicago style hot dogs. The owners even went to Hot Dog Academy to refine their skills before opening the truck. Located down South and worth the drive.
Jason: So, why did you start a food truck in Austin?
Brian: My wife, Teri’s a teacher and I was in sales for all these years and I was just sick of working the cubicle nine to five and I really loved Chicago style hot dogs and Italian beef.
Teri: We’re both from Chicago.
Ainsley: When’d you guys move?
Brian: So, she’s been here about 15 years. We both met in Santa Barbara ages ago.
Ainsley: You’ve really been places.
Brian: Yeah! Exactly. We’ve been all over the place but we’ve always had a craving for Chicago style hot dogs with Italian beef so I ended up quitting my sales job and went to Chicago where they actually have a Hot Dog University at the Vienna Beef Factory.
Ainsley: So, what is unique about those hot dogs?
Teri: The company’s been around since 1893 so this is their 125th anniversary and the grade of meat is high quality and the seasoning they use is a great combination.
Brian: Chicago has a strong history of just sausages and meats because they have the stockyards on the sides of Chicago, so, basically any cattle that was coming from Texas or Colorado or anywhere was going to trains that would end up in Chicago and that’s where all the floor houses were. If you’ve read Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” it takes place-
Brian: Not a great example, but-
Brian: But it does take place on the south side of Chicago there and there’s a rich history of sausages and meats and things.
Ainsley: So you don’t find there’s any sausage or meat around here in Austin that could beat that?
Brian: Well, Hot Dogs on the East Coast is the other popular brand but I just don’t see it- they don’t feel like a hot dog to me and I think they’re pork based too and ours is all beef.
Ainsley: Have you tried other hot dog places in town? Like Franks Hot Dogs?
Brian: Yeah, they use Vienna Beef as well. When we first moved here, we went there one time.
Jason: There are other food trucks that sell Vienna Beef.
Brian: Yup, and if it’s not a Vienna Beef hot dog then it’s not a real hot dog in my opinion, honestly.
Ainsley: How did you guys come up with the recipes on your menu outside just the hot dog?
Brian: Trial and error. For our Italian Beef, we played with a couple of different recipes until we got the spices right; especially the Au Jus.
Ainsley: Oh, I love Au Jus. How do you keep that from making the bun super wet?
Teri: Some Chicago people love it that way.
Brian: And they dip it in the juice.
Teri: And it’s exciting because some people want to pour it on.
Brian: By the way, ketchup is a cardinal sin on a Chicago Dog. A Chicago Dog does not have any ketchup on it.
We use tomatoes instead of ketchup. Ketchup is made out of tomatoes so we use actual tomatoes instead of the ketchup.
Ainsley: Haha. That’s awesome. So, I know you guys are doing shaved ice right now, are you planning on bringing in ice cream or just the shaved ice?
Teri: Right now we have tiny Italian ice cups but we’re going to get the scoopy cups so it’ll be more authentic.
Brian: That’s a big thing in Chicago as well.
Jason: Are you doing any collaborations with anyone here in Austin?
Teri: Not yet.
Brian: That’s something we thought about and we were discussing that. We were thinking about doing a cookie or something like that.
Teri: The beer thing, though, you probably already know this but as a mobile vendor it’s illegal to sell beer.
Ainsley: Local breweries like to collaborate with food vendors here all the time when they can.
So, do you find that people order something and come back and order more?
Brian: We definitely have a lot of repeat customers. And you know what? The majority of our business would actually be carwash customers but I’d say 75% are Chicagoans who really miss the Chicago style hot dog and the Italian Beef.
Ainsley: How many Chicago people live in Austin?
Teri: We don’t know that number, but, a lot.
Ainsley: Or just people craving the Chicago dog?
Brian: I get a lot of people who were like “Oh yeah, I’ve been there on business and it’s so great!”
Ainsley: So where do you guys plan on going from here?
Brian: Teri, what do you think?
Teri: I really don’t know.
Brian: Well, I don’t think we’d ever want a brick and mortar, so I think we’d grill at the two other Genie Car Wash locations.
Ainsley: So you guys have a really good relationship right now with them?
Brian: Yeah, so we’re really happy with the price and they pretty much let us do whatever we want. So yeah, I think we’ll do that once we get settled in a little bit more.
Ainsley: The truck looks really good. I love the design. Who came up with the design for it?
Teri: We came up with the idea and my best friend’s sister is a graphic designer so she changed out the marquee to make it legal.
Ainsley: She did it really good. Is there anything you’d like our listeners to know about the food truck or where you guys are going-?
Brian: Come check us out!
Ainsley: Alright, cool.
Brian: 1311 South Lamar!
Ainsley: There you go.