Where Asylum and Ann Uccello streets meet in downtown Hartford could soon become the intersection of hot dog and hamburger.
A local bar owner plans to open a restaurant and bar in the former location of Tapas on Ann that will serve up all kinds of hot dogs from the New England region and beyond.
East Coast Dog will have the Sabrett — “The Hot Dog New Yorkers Relish” — on its menu, the “Little Rhody”, served in the Rhode Island for a century, and a custom-designed, 22-inch dog made by Mucke’s, long known in the Hartford area, among others.
East Coast Dog could open as soon as December and would be right up the street from Burger Baby, which has been open about a year.
Mike Brown, a partner in the venture, told me today that he has always been a big fan of hot dogs. “Every time I visited somewhere, I had to know what hot dog the region was known for.”
Brown and his partner, Mike Walker, see a vast market in the lunch crowd and when there are events at XL Center.
The partners saw the explosion in the popularity of burger chains, and they saw the same potential for hot dogs. Walker has been a manager at Counter Burger, a build-your-own-burger joint in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square.
Brown also was ready to try something new. For more than six years, he had operated the Vegas Boulevard bar in the West End. He said it has become too much of a “dive,” and he was looking for a new start.
A decade ago, Brown was a manager at the Bar with No Name in downtown Hartford.
The entrance to the East Coast Dog restaurant would be off Ann Uccello Street, while the bar would be from Asylum. The two areas would be separate, catering to all ages, Brown said.
Diners will order at a counter and there will be seating. Brown said the hot dogs will likely range in cost from $2.50 to $8 or $9. Toppings will range from the standard to mustard and relish to meat sauces, sauteed sauerkraut (Brown’s grandfather’s recipe) and chili. Most of the toppings will cost 25 cents or 50 cents.
The bar will be known as The Hartford Room @ East Coast Dog. Brown and Walker have plans for live entertainment and dancing.
The partners hope the venture will grow into a chain of franchises, hence the name, East Coast Dog.
Brown said he did not paint the exterior of the building red. That was by another tenant that came close to opening in the same space but whose plans ultimately fell through.
At first, Brown wasn’t sure about the color, given the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. But then, it started to grow on him
“It does make the corner jump out a bit,” Brown said.