Hot dogs have moved from the ballpark to the world of haute cuisine--well, almost. There are a hundred things you can do with a plain old hot dog these days--from the spiral cut and roasted to the muffaletta dog with marinated olives and peppers. I personally like Hebrew National hot dogs with sauerkraut and a sharp, good mustard--not Kraft salad mustard, thank you very much.
I've decided a character in the fourth Kelly O'Connell Mystery is going to open an upscale (?) hot dog restaurant on what has become restaurant row in Kelly's neighborhood--alongside a bistro, a country Italian restaurant, a long-established place serving Middle Eastern food, a high-brow taco place. She'll serve a wide variety of hot dogs--Thai style with Sriracha and other things, Greek with yogurt, cucumber, and Greek salad dressing, Dixie featuring black-eyed peas, bell pepper, and jalopeno. I'm sure she'll think of other varieties. And of course, chili dogs and Chicago style with mustard, sweet and dill pickles, onion, and peppers. I remember a drive-up stand in Santa Fe called "The Chicago Dog" but I have something more than a drive-up in mind,though small, very few seats.
My problem is what to call the restaurant? I googled hot dog restaurants and was amazed at the number of them across the country. I'm not quite as close to cutting edge as I thought, except that I know there's none in my immediate area, which is pretty much Kelly's area. So this is a viable idea--hey, if I quit writing I might do that myself. Serve beer with them.
But back to my point. I looked at names of restaurants across the country and most were unimaginative. Sometimes they were the owner's name, like "Mike's Place." A lot were "Dog House" or "Dog Stand." I want something more original. In the book I ask the young girls to think of a name, but then of course in the long run I'd have to come up with it. The best my fictional characters came up with us "Puttin' On The Dog" which one said sounded like a grooming parlor. So I thought why not ask readers to come up with a really clever name.
So please send ideas to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll look forward to suggestions until September 15. I admit the winner will be chosen by me, probably in conjunction with my local daughter. But the winner will get a free copy of the as-yet unnamed fourth Kelly O'Connell Mystery, due next April.
I'm kind of getting carried away with this hot dog idea. Also send me any new ideas you have for toppings. I'll credit those in the book.