Ashley Thatcher says she's the girl that shows up to class reeking of hot dogs and chopped onions.
It's the smell of hard work.
Thatcher, originally from the border town of McAllen, says her parents instilled hard-working values in her at a young age through putting her to work their various enterprises in the food industry. So running a hot dog start-up as a full-time doctorate student seemed doable -- although some of her friends say she's crazy.
It all started about two years ago. After spending all day in the hot sun, floating down the Comal River in New Braunfels, Thatcher said she worked up quiet the appetite. She was HUNGRY, and also knew she wasn't the only person on the river craving a juicy hot dog loaded with an unbridled choice of toppings.
Hence Dirty Dogs was created. Thatcher salvaged a hot dog roller from her dad and set up a hot little trailer outside Rockin' R River Rides, serving hungry tubers fresh off the river.
- QUICK BITES
- Location: 5251 McCullough (behind Olmos Perk)
- Hours: Tues-Sat, noon to 8 p.m.
- Phone: (210) 887-3917
- Price: $3.99-$4.99 per dog
- "Like" Dirty Dogz on Facebook
Now a doctorate student studying pharmacology at Incarnate Word, waking up early to get to the river was too much of a hassle. It's also seasonal. A year ago, she by chance stumbled upon The Yard off McCoullough -- a string of rustic boxcars turned nostalgic retail space -- and decided to give it a go.
But to be successful, Thatcher said she knew she had to do something different with her hot dogs. Because come on. It's a hot dog, and hot dogs are everywhere -- gas stations, street corners, food trucks, ball games even vending machines. But have you ever enjoyed a DIRTY Stuffed Jalapeño Dog from inside a red boxcar?
Didn't think so.
The funky atmosphere alone -- wood flooring, a wild zerbra-stripe pattern streaking across the interior and horseshoe napkin holders -- enforces the restaurant's mantra: "a different way of doing gourmet." Thatcher is the first tenant in the polished boxcar, and proudly displays the Day 1 photos of the bare trailer that her, her sister and a few good friends transformed into the quirky hot dog hangout it is today.
And just look at the menu.
It all starts with a quarter-pound Nathan's all-beef hot dog inside a crisply toasted bun. It's the perfect canvas to dirty up with a mouth-watering choice of meatballs, jalapeños, cream cheese, hamburger, Fritos, grilled onions, sauerkraut, avocado, queso and much, much more.
Thatcher said her most popular menu items are the stuffed jalapeño, BBQ and the B.L.T. dogs, although all of her dogs are sure to satisfy.
A local chef once stopped in and asked Thatcher how she came up with her menu. But there was no quest for the perfect blend of flavors. No research for the perfect presentation. Nope, Thatcher explained, just two really late nights of hitting the books and craving some plump hot dogs with some crazy-good toppings.