What’s better on a sweltering hot summer day than a juicy hot dog fresh off of the grill, slathered with ketchup and mustard?
Well, there may be a few things that come close, but for me, the hot dog is it. And now that Grand Forks has a combination record store, comic book shop and hot dog stand, I’m pretty excited.
The DogMahal DogHaus on the corner of 3rd Street and Demers Avenue is technically the same business as Ojata Records, so you can beef up your collections of vinyl or vintage Superman comics and afterward, grab a seat in one of the booths and chow down on one of the many unique hot dog creations.
Owner Jeremy Swisher, who moved his record store from across the street to his current location, is still working out a few things with the culinary side of things, but judging by some of the crazy combinations of dog and topping he’s thought up, I think he’s on the right track.
“I’ve just been trying to hone it and make it into something better. Between both the retail and the hot dogs, I feel that one’s not going to live without the other,” Swisher said.
It’s not all meat in tube form, candy, soda, records and comics, though.
“Live music was always in my mind, too. I’ve been a promoter of live music since I was a teenager,” Swisher said. “I felt good about having the culture end of it for Grand Forks and the youth, mainly.”
He’s working on getting some external signs put up on the building to help get the word out about the DogHaus.
Oh and besides owning and operating a local business downtown, which is not an easy task (especially when you’re not slinging booze), Swisher recorded an album with a local band, the Alleles, that he said should be out soon.
“I haven’t been open as much as I wish. I’m thankful that people are patient and aren’t throwing bricks through the window,” Swisher said with a laugh.
The racks of comics and records are on wheels for easy moving and to make space for the local bands that occasionally rock the place.
As for the name? Swisher says DogMahal is a play on words like Taj Mahal. “I had a couple of different people come up to me and say that it works right, but just that it means ‘expensive dog’ in some languages… or ‘shop’ is another one,” Swisher said.
He’s even got a little red hot dog cart that can be wheeled out onto the street corner, ready to feed those who may be in need after a night at any of the many bars in the vicinity. But Jeremy said it does get dicey every once in a while.
“The cart itself has been in a fight and it’s gotten beat up,” Swisher recalled.
It was a fight between two guys that somehow started to involve the innocent cart, with the fight “just totally spilling into the cart and [taking] it down. Yeah, that was the worst it’s seen I think as far as battle- it still has battle scars. I’m pretty OK with that, it’s pretty rough and tumble out there sometimes.”
With the warm summer weather and numerous events downtown, Swisher is hoping for an increase in business.
“I think that once I get on the corner, it’s going to help out a lot. This fall, we’ll be full steam ahead and know the game and be able to be open late nights on the weekends at least, if not other nights,” Swisher said.
When I checked the place out on a recent afternoon, I opted for a classic Chicago style dog, with mustard, relish, onions, a pickle spear and celery salt. I skipped the tomato and sport peppers that make up a truly classic Chicago dog this time, though. Swisher laid the toppings on a seriously jumbo-sized Nathan’s frank and down onto a freshly grilled poppy-seed bun. It was very tasty and, as a Chicago dog always is, very messy.
Swisher’s equipped with a vent-less deep-fryer so he can make rippers. They’re deep-fried dogs that rip open when the searing oil has finished cooking them.
He says the business can do catering and provide food for parties. Swisher’s brought the cart out to events like the French Fry Feed and Potato Bowl Parade, too.
If you’re downtown and in need of records, comics, hot dogs or just some conversation, I recommend checking the place out.
DogMahal DogHaus Facebook page / (701) 757-4000