A Doug eat dog world

Doug Rhodes was years ahead of the mobile food movement.

Doug’s Dawgs is arguably the most well known food-truck of the few in town. It is parked at lunch time outside the Blair County Courthouse on mostly Mondays and Fridays in the spring, summer and fall, and set up at Leighty’s Flea Market & Antiques on Sundays.

Rhodes, who is also a music teacher, started Doug’s Dawgs in 2005, and began selling hot dogs in front of the courthouse in 2007, according to Mirror reports.

On-the-go food venues have significantly increased, a Business Insider article reported recently. The website Roaming Hunger reports a 197 percent increase in food trucks from 2011 to 2013 on the national level, the article said.

Rhodes decided to open Doug’s Dawgs at the mall after he got a hankering for a hot dog and

couldn’t buy one there, he said. The mall location didn’t work out, though.

“If I was going to be successful in this business, I needed to be mobile, I couldn’t have a brick and mortar business. So I went mobile and got in touch with the county and decided to see if they would let me set up up front here for a permit, and they gave me a permit,” said Rhodes, who has donated portions of his sales to charity.

Rhodes doesn’t just sell hot dogs.

Hamburgers and sausage, BBQ pork and grilled chicken sandwiches are also included on the menu.

“One of my biggest sellers is I do a chili mac. … It’s got my own sauce on it and cheese and macaroni. I sell a lot of that,” he said.

In fact, Doug’s Chili-Mac Shack is making appearances at fairs and festivals.

The throw-back feel is part of what makes food trucks popular.

“It’s a nice alternative to the brick and mortar restaurants. Generally speaking, if experience serves me well, it’s a quicker meal, so anybody on the go; and, I think, honestly, the nostalgia or the experience of eating off of a food truck, people like that experience,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes also does catering, and he said he serves the same food from his truck, but people swear its tastes different out of context.

“It’s the same thing, but I think it’s the experience of eating outside,” he said. “And I like that. That’s the one part of my business I really love is that you’re outside, you’re having fun.

“Even in bad weather when I used to come out in the winter, folks just like that experience of coming out and seeing the steam come off the cart. Because it actually brings the big city into a small town.”

Steve Wilt, with fianc, Heather Snyder, and two-year-old Arabella, enjoyed three of Doug’s hot dogs on a recent Friday.

“We were hungry, and it smelled good, and we’ve heard good things about it over the years,” Wilt said.

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.