CLINTON — For roughly eight years, people across the Gateway area have enjoyed a Chicago-style hot dog along the riverfront during their lunch breaks. It is a staple in this community. Regardless of the festival happening, you have probably stopped by and got a Holly Dog.
Now the local hot dog cart is moving into a former bank building on the corner of Seventh Ave. South and Second Street in downtown Clinton. The owner, Holly Rowden, says she is eager to open up shop.
“It’s exceptionally exciting,” Rowden told the Clinton Herald. “And nerve-wracking at the same time. But it’s really exciting and it’s something my husband and I thought about for a lot of years. It’s a big undertaking just to get any space ready for health department and city inspections and things of that nature.”
Rowden says she and her husband are learning a lot from this experience. She says they put a lot of work together in transforming an old bank into a restaurant. Occasionally Rowden reflects on how their business has grown over the years. She says that is what makes this moment so special.
“We have a name and a following within the city of Clinton,” Rowden said. “And we worked very hard for (that) And, hopefully, this just gives people additional options.”
Now that Holly’s Dogs will be inside, Rowden will be able to run the business year-round. No longer will rainy days or extreme heat or cold prevent people from buying their favorite Chicago-style dog. For Rowden, that is what is most important: being able to service her loyal customers who have been around since the beginning.
With a new restaurant, Rowden says the menu will be the same for the most part. However, she plans on expanding it to some degree. But no worries; favorites such as the all-beef hot dog, polish sausage, jalapeno dog and the cheddar brat will still be available.
In addition, there will be tacos, Italian beef sandwiches, and a pork tenderloin sandwich as well. Also, she says they are going to have gourmet french fries, which is fries with cheese curds on top with gravy and cheese to top it off. Rowden says she likes to introduce new things to her customers because that is the expectation she has set over the years.
“We take a lot of pride in customer service,” Rowden said. “And coming up with different creative ways to have a hot dog. It doesn’t have to be a hot dog with ketchup and mustard every time. You can come up all the time and have something different.”
With many businesses having to revamp the way they do things amid the coronavirus, Rowden says she is concerned as the pandemic is happening while she is trying to open her business. At the same time, with Holly’s Dogs being a drive-up service, she may not be negatively impacted. Rowden says her grand opening may be that ray of hope in these uncertain times.
“It could actually possibly serve as a need in the community,” Rowden said. “When a lot of restaurants had to rearrange the way they had to do business.”
Rowden says the business should open within the next couple of weeks.