Tuesday, January 22, 2008

For The Love Of Dogs

For The Love Of Dogs
By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC | January 20, 2008

Matt and Laura Hotchkiss own and operate Mad Dogs Bistro in Fairfield. Photo by Brad Zweerink

FAIRFIELD - Matt Hotchkiss' love of making good hot dogs began when he was a 16-year-old and worked for Dandy Dogs in Contra Costa County. The eatery used the same quality meat he serves today.

Hotchkiss and his wife, Laura, are sharing that love of a well-made hot dog with their new business, Mad Dogs Bistro.

'Our dogs are our centerpiece,' Hotchkiss said of offerings that include the Mad Dog Original, the West Coast, the Southbound, the Chili Supreme and the Basher.

After several years of 'working in every other restaurant with every cuisine,' Hotchkiss worked in the construction industry for a time while his wife worked in property management.

Last year, the couple started looking around Fairfield for a good place to start a small hot dog and deli business. Mad Dogs Bistro is in the small shopping center at the east end of East Travis Boulevard.

'We are going back to something that we are comfortable with,' Hotchkiss said of his return to the food industry.

The Hotchkisses picked their Fairfield location because they like the people here and look forward to giving everyone the best hot dogs, deli sandwiches and salads in town.

'We are all about the community and customer service,' Laura Hotchkiss said.

That includes getting connected with local community organizations to donate whatever food they don't use on a particular day to help the less fortunate.

The decorations in the bistro are sparse, but that is because the Hotchkisses prefer to put all their money into ensuring what they serve is first rate.

Mad Dogs' hot dogs are 100 percent beef and come from Miller Hot Dogs in Lodi a century-old meat packing firm. Miller Hot Dogs supplies the hot dogs sold at Oakland A's games.

'Whatever we do here, we do from scratch,' Matt Hotchkiss said of his offerings, which also include cornbread, soups and carrot cake made in the eatery.

The servings are large enough that Hotchkiss vows they are enough for more than one meal.

'I want people to come in because the food is superior and the price is fair,' Matt Hotchkiss said.

The price for a foot-long dog is about $4.50 on the average. Sandwiches are a little more than $5, depending whether you like them served hot or cold.

Customer feedback since they opened has been excellent so far, according to Matt Hotchkiss, and 'the return business has been phenomenal.'

The two have a lot of plans for the future of Mad Dogs, but they are concentrating at present on building their customer base.

'For the next five years, I want to make the place really successful,' Matt Hotchkiss said. 'So come on in and get a great dog for a great price.'

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

Mad Dogs Bistro
Owner: Matt Hotchkiss
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. winter; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. summer
Date opened: Open for business: Jan. 2
Location: 870 East Travis Blvd., Suite F, Fairfield
Phone: 426-1364

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