A hot dog suit is not the usual choice for Saturday night clubbing attire. However, for The College Dog, a pop-up hot dog stand in Gainesville, it’s an ingenious way to attract students strolling the streets or stumbling from Midtown in search of a greasy treat.
After a grand opening in early January, the trendy and affordable hot dog stand — located on the corner of University Avenue and Northwest 17th Street — is returning to Midtown to welcome students back during UF’s syllabus week.
The stand, which will be open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Aug. 22 to Aug. 26, has become well-known for its flashy hot dog suit, loud music and beer-boiled hot dogs.
Isaac Heuchan, The College Dog chief executive officer and a student at Florida State University, started the business in Tallahassee with three of his friends. With an interest in setting up a new location in Gainesville, they contacted their two friends at UF — Hunter Holloway and Cole Wilson.
“They reached out to us and were interested in trying to see how it would work in Gainesville,” said Holloway, chief operating officer of the stand and 21-year-old UF political science senior. “Cole and I decided we felt confident we could do it and do it well.”
During the business’ first night at Midtown, the hot dog stand sold out — causing Holloway to call his roommate in a panic, asking him to bring 100 more hot dogs to the stand. The stand then sold over 2,500 hotdogs in just three weeks during its opening in January, said Wilson, the stand’s chief financial officer and 20-year-old UF business administration junior. Wilson estimated the business has sold about 10,000 hotdogs.
What makes The College Dog different from other street stands, Holloway said, is the cooking method. The hot dogs are boiled in a mixture of water and beer.
Jeanpaul Davilla, a 21-year-old UF business administration senior, is a frequent customer at the stand and appreciates its dedication to providing students with late-night food.
“I love the fact that I can count on them to give me a good glizzy on my way home from a long night out,” Davila said.
Aside from its unique recipe, The College Dog in Gainesville stands out because of its welcoming environment and positive attitude.
Students and young adults can be seen chatting with employees at the stand, exchanging laughter with one another and listening to music while they wait in line to purchase a hot dog. Students can also ask to wear the hot dog suit, which is one of the key attractions of the stand, Holloway said.
“Essentially, we want to be an extension of the bar,” Holloway said. “Usually we’re blaring music, we’re dancing and we're having a good time trying to welcome everyone we can. That typically draws in a bigger crowd because the more welcome you feel, the more people are going to come.”
The owners predict that the start of the Fall semester will bring more business due to college move-ins and Greek life events. They also plan on setting up a cart on fraternity row and bringing The College Dog to tailgating parties, Wilson said.
Since opening the Gainesville location, Wilson and Holloway have transitioned from a two-person stand to hiring managers and growing their staff to about nine employees. Expanding the team has helped them manage work, classes and a social life.
Although working at the stand involves long hours and exhausting nights, Wilson and Holloway are incredibly grateful for the opportunities and friendships The College Dog has provided.
“We really do have fun doing this,” Wilson said. “Sometimes I'll have more fun than I do going out. I'm out there making money, and I'm getting to be around my friends who are going out.”
Contact Alexandra Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @alexaburnsuf.