By Jamie Stolar
VANCOUVER — Yet another restaurant has opened in the ever-changing Hastings Sunrise neighbourhood. What’s Up? Hot Dog! Officially opened their doors on April 1st of this year but believe me, their dogs are no joke.
Welcome newbie restaurateurs Matt and Jenna Hagarty. It’s a funny feat that this unlikely pair went into the business, as neither of the married couple has had any real restaurant experience. Matt, having worked with Canada Post for a decade, and Jenna in the forestry industry, leads to obvious questions such as, ‘What were you thinking?’ With new restaurants opening every day and very few lucky to make it past the year mark, new restaurants are often received with skepticism. What’s Up? Hot Dog! was no exception, that is until the doors were opened. The timing is nothing short of perfect to bring a fresh concept to the up-and-coming area. Paving the way are spots like The Red Wagon, Tacofino, Campagnolo Roma and a couple of kitschy coffee shops. What better than a hot dog joint to round out the neighborhood?
The duo has significantly spruced up the old Master Chef location. Not without a lot of elbow grease and support from their friends and family to get the place cleaned up over the course of three months. Hagarty states that they took a very DIY approach and are lucky enough to have some amazing and knowledgeable people as a part of their team. From the very cool What’s Up? light bulb sign, fabricated by a friend, to the chandeliers that he and his wife made, to the whole kitchen overhaul, they did it all on their own. All this resulted in a manageable learning curve, Hagarty states he’s never worked so much in his life. When asked if he thinks Hot Dogs are the new Taco, Hagarty has a cool, calm, collected response up his sleeve, “I don’t really follow food trends. I really just wanted to have a cool joint where people feel comfortable and enjoy a really great hot dog, a beer and maybe enjoy a baseball game while they’re at it.”
So what about the hot dogs? My first What’s Up? dog had to be A-Rueben Bahama, Come On Pretty Mamma. An all beef Two Rivers sausage topped with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, hot mustard and Russian dressing for the win. They have a line-up of eight dogs to choose from as well as wings and waffle fries. With in-city sourced ingredients ranging from their Two Rivers locally raised and grass fed beef dogs, to Swiss Bakery buns and produce bought in the neighbourhood, the menu is thoroughly impressive. Not to mention they have a recycling program and compost their food scraps, Hagarty says with daily deliveries their food waste is very minimal. They are waiting on their liquor license and hope to have it before the summer starts. Our final question for Hagarty was about his long-term goals with What’s Up? Hot Dog! and whether or not in the future we’ll see the city peppered with other locations. “I haven’t thought that far ahead, but would like to see this location as a sort of an institution, I would be happy with that,” he says, with a wistful look in his eye.
What’s Up? Hot Dog! is open for business at 2481 E Hastings St.BC, British Columbia, food and drink, hot dogs, What's Up? Hot Dog!