Taking the dogs outside
May 30, 2012
Local vendor establishes presence in Driggs
If you want a gluten-free, organic, vegetarian meal, Rockin’ Dogs plans on being a source of information in the valley to help you find just that, but Brig Gabriel and Nicle Ratajczak will also be serving up the all-American favorite in a bun. Photo by Hope Strong
During the 16 years that Brig Gabriel was a competitive body builder, he didn’t imagine that he would ever be running a hot dog joint, he just knew the cravings he had for a couple dogs were real following a lot of flexing his muscles.
“Everyone likes a good hot dog,” Gabriel said. “People are instantly gratified.”
Gabriel and his partner, Nicole Ratajczak, opened Rockin’ Dogs & Ice Cream last Monday, and the pair watched people enjoy all-American favorites that are the foundation of a new business in Driggs where Big Hole Barbeque was located last summer.
Making their debut in Detroit at the Woodward Dream Cruise, Gabriel and Ratajczak started peddling dogs as a way to enjoy the three-day event that has grown to host millions. When he left Michigan, Gabriel stored his hot dog cart in a barn at his pop’s place, and it sat there for years as Gabriel’s familiar face worked its way from the
Sweetwater Restaurant in Jackson, the Trap Bar at Grand Targhee Resort and the Timberline Bar in Victor.
One year ago this past Memorial Day weekend, Gabriel went to dig his hot dog cart out of the barn in Michigan. He wanted to depart from part-time gigs to be his own boss, and that was the birth of Rockin’ Dogs in Teton Valley. Starting last year at Music on Main, Gabriel took his weenies to Jackson’s Music in the Hole and the Snow Devil’s Hill Climb.
With each event more successful than the last, Gabriel saw an opportunity to establish himself as an eatery. He bought the hut located next to Grande Rental in Driggs and kept the 50s American Graffiti he’d started in Motor City. Gabriel wants to be a successful purveyor of food year-round, but he knows that a diet of dogs alone is not realistic. With a good roadside location, Rockin’ Dogs wants to help promote other eateries throughout the valley this summer by offering menus of other restaurants as well, spreading the wealth generously like mustard and onions.
“We’re going to be open every day, but I know people can’t eat hot dogs seven days a week,” Gabriel said. “We want to have everyone’s menu available so residents and visitors know what their other choices are. It doesn’t hurt to help others out. You’ve got to work together here.”
Self-described as having a type B-plus personality, Gabriel was a little keyed up this week as he got Rockin’ Dogs ready for its grand opening this weekend. He’s been thinking about this Memorial Day for six months and wanted to be prepared. Rockin’ Dogs will be dog friendly in more ways than one as Gabriel welcomes four-legged friends, and he plans on growing his menu to include frozen treats for pups like Frosty Paws.
Keeping it simple and all-American, Rockin’ Dogs plans on hot dogs and cold ice cream sandwiches throughout the summer and into the next season. He knows his niche market and doesn’t want to navigate too much. He might add a few items to his menu this summer, but by next Memorial Day Gabriel’s goal is to be featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, a Food Network staple that celebrates the finer fare of food that’s not fancy.
Rockin’ Dogs has brought the cart birthday parties most recently, and he’s set to cater the wedding of Jackson radio personality Mark “Fish” Fishmon this summer.
“He’s a New York boy who loves a good dog,” Gabriel said. “Who doesn’t?”
To inquire about catering opportunities, call Gabriel at 705-7714.