Dutch & Co. owners Phil Perrow and Caleb and Michelle Shriver recently opened a hot-dog-focused lunch spot at 2709 E. Marshall St., Stroops Heroic Dogs, just up the street from their original Church Hill restaurant. Food & Wine Magazine nominated chefs Perrow and Shriver for its people’s best new chef award in 2014, and Shriver won the Elby Award for best rising culinary star in 2012. We had a few questions about their new place -- and one in particular. Why hot dogs?
Short Order: Originally, you sold hot dogs out of the side door of Dutch & Co. on Saturdays and called it Back Door Dogs. How did that idea come about?
Michelle Shriver: There was a whole lamb in the walk-in, and the guys were looking to do some different preparation with it, and I chimed in with the idea of hot dogs. Sell them out of the kitchen door for an hour, and see what happens. ...
When did you think that maybe you should expand on that and move the concept into its own space?
We technically outgrew the space [at] Dutch & Co. Then when the space across the street from Dutch became available, we knew it was time.
Stroops Heroic Dogs -- what’s the inspiration for the name?
The word Stroops essentially is a playful shorthand name for the stroopwafel that originated at Dutch & Co. We would have fun with the word by making up phrases like strooper troopers, Stroop Dog, stroop there it is, stroop a loop -- the list goes on. We had a couple ideas for a name but nothing seemed to grab us.
One day Stroops was thrown out there in a meeting and the talented Jonathan Goldberg [from the branding, marketing and advertising agency A for Adventure] noticed the way it made our faces light up. He said, “That’s it, Stroops!” -- and we couldn’t have agreed more.
Jonathan also came up with the phrase Heroic Dogs and we love it, because it’s a great way to describe the hot dogs. Even though we’re sourcing from Autumn Olive Farms and making our own dogs, we don’t consider ourselves gourmet. We’re just doing what people did a long time ago, before mass-produced hot dogs hit the shelves.
How did the menu evolve? I’m thinking particularly about such exotic choices as the pâté de campagne and Oaxacan mole dogs.
It really just started with what was available for the season. When we were doing it out of Dutch & Co., we would look at what was in the walk-in and use that as our jumping-off point. And without knowing it, the back-door dogs turned into our test market.
Although the hot dogs you sell are pretty fancy, it isn’t the same sort of chef-driven fare that you serve at Dutch & Co. Or do you disagree? Had you guys thought about opening up for lunch instead?
Stroops is a hot dog joint, plain and simple. It’s not fancy, it’s just a humble, logical approach to the way things ought to be. As far as lunch goes at Dutch & Co., we’re sticking with dinner only.
And the obvious question: What’s your favorite dog, Michelle?
Don’t make me choose!