Each weekday, under the gaze of Manchester’s “Mill Girl” statue, Marc Dube sells hot dogs and other lunch foods at his hot dog stand, Dube Dogs N’ More. Dube Dogs, located at 359 North Commercial St., caters to the busy software developers, architects and other professionals of Manchester’s Millyard. The cart is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.
As the name indicates, Dube’s main item is the hot dog. He uses Old Neighborhood hot dogs, which are large hot dogs made in Lynn, Mass. He said he likes to get his food items from as near as possible. In fact, Dube is able to walk from his stand to Caesarios, the source of the freshly made Syrian bread he uses for many of his sandwiches.
In addition to hot dogs, Dube’s menu items include hot and sweet sausages, kielbasa with sauerkraut, and a grilled chicken Caesar salad. Dube makes a grilled barbecue roast beef sandwich, and a boneless breasted chicken sandwich, which can be made with barbecue sauce or garlic and olive oil. One of the most exciting offerings is jambalaya in a Syrian bread bowl on Fridays.
“Everyone looks forward to jambalaya Fridays on Commercial Street,” Dube said.
Running a restaurant out of a cart certainly has its limitations, but Dube is pleased by the way his menu has evolved since he first opened. He is planning to expand his menu and offer some vegetarian options, because he has noticed a demand in the area. “I just want to make sure I can do it right in the process of cooking and serving vegetarian food,” he said.
Dube has always been passionate about food. He worked in the food service industry for many years. For the past 15 years, however, he was a cabinet maker for New Hampshire Kitchen and Bath.
“I’ve always been very good at designing people’s kitchens because I know how to cook,” Dube said. Dube said his passion for food and a downturn in the construction company led him to open the cart. For the first year of business, Dube was simultaneously working in cabinetry at a showroom in the Millyard and running the cart. “That location popped up and it made it very convenient for me,” Dube said.
Although he chose the location based on convenience, Dube said the spot has been successful. The area is filled with offices and few affordable dining options.
“We’re a good, inexpensive alternative to some of the other restaurants in our area,” Dube said. He calls his cart a “recession-resistant mobile food unit.”
Dube sets up a tent daily and puts a few lawn chairs underneath it for customers. Many patrons sit on the wide set of stairs next to the cart or take their meals to the riverfront. A significant number of customers get their meals to go: “A lot of people want to eat in their office,” Dube said.
Rain is no match for Dube Dogs. Generally, Dube moves his cart under his tent if there are rain showers.
“You’d actually be surprised how many people come out in the rain to get my food. I want people to know that I’m dedicated,” Dube said.
Dube has tried to cultivate a sense of community around the cart, and is committed to making each customer’s experience a positive one.
“It’s the interaction with the customer, that’s my favorite part. I try to make it a fun and friendly atmosphere, kind of like going to your neighbor’s backyard cookout. I go to a lot of restaurants where I don’t feel appreciated or properly greeted,” he said.
Dube has used Facebook as a tool to generate interest and share information about the hot dog cart. The menu is posted there, and he solicits his Facebook friends for advice on how to improve his food and service. His current query is whether he should use barbecue sauce on the kielbasa. Dube has also employed his sister’s dogs to develop his brand. Dube has created a storyline surrounding the four small dogs, who have been dubbed the Dube Dogs, to promote specials at the cart. In reference to his Facebook page, Dube said, “I’m not sure how that tool is going to evolve. I’m trying to make it fun and clever.” He was somewhat wary of creating the page because of the lack of control he had over users’ comments, but thus far everyone has been positive.
Dube enjoys working at the cart during the week and is interested in catering special events on weekends.
“Hopefully this is a stepping stone for bigger and better things in the food industry,” he said.