To revisit the topic of cheap eats, we checked in with Seattle-based Matt’s Gourmet Hot Dogs . Talk about a recession-proof business: Matt’s manages to keep an even keel whether the market is flush or flailing.
SEATTLE TIMES FILE PHOTO
”For the most part, I would say that we just don’t really see ups or downs,” says owner, namesake and chili dog fanatic Matt Jones. ”So when times are really bad, I don’t really notice too much of a difference. On the other hand, when things are good I don’t really notice too much of a difference, either. I just kind of sit here in a little world and I’m grateful for that, because it’s nice not to have mega swings.”
Matt’s has strayed from its name bit by bit over 16 years in business. First, with Italian beef. Then, a pastrami sandwich. Later, a veggie dog. Now Matt has finally listened to pleading from customers over the years and — gasp! — added burgers and fries to the hot-dog centric menu. It’s just one location — 6615 E. Marginal Way S. — for now. If it works, he may expand to his four other hot-dog joints.
”The real challenge was the fries. We wanted to do real fries, not the baked fries they do at some places. And for that you have to put a hood in and get a deep-fat fryer,” he said.
All that trouble means he finally can offer chili cheeseburgers and chili-cheese fries.
”People have been bugging us about chili cheeseburgers for 15 years. The burgers have been a pleasant surprise. A friend comes in and doesn’t want a hot dog, but they’ll eat a burger.”
The Marginal Way location is a fun mix of demographics at lunch. Industrial workers from nearby warehouses rub elbows with business guys pulling into the lot in Bentleys.
”We see copier salesmen next to canners next to construction guys next to executive-type guys,” Matt says.
Single ladies, Matt’s Marginal Way location sounds like a promising place to meet men (the ratio is about 3-to-1, Matt says). Another suggestion: bread-baking classes. My sources tell me they’re one of the few cooking classes where men often outnumber women. Could it be the engineer-like precision successful baking requires?