Hot dog royalty

Steve and April King

Photo By Carli Cutchin

Steve and April King own and operate In the Dog House, a hot dog stand on the Truckee River just south of West First Street. The Mt. Shasta, Calif., natives have lived in Reno since June and have operated the hot dog stand for the last six weeks. Prior to moving here, Steve was in the medical profession and April was a caretaker for the couple’s son, who had Hepatitis C and recently died of liver failure. After his death, Steve and April decided they wanted to work together and outdoors, so they set up shop here in Reno along the river. The couple will celebrate their 28th wedding anniversary this month. Their stand is open Monday through Friday from about 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hot dog prices range from $2.25 to $3.

Aren’t you one of the first hot dog vendors around Reno?

Steve: There have been a few, but only along the River Walk. [Vendors] have a four-block area along the river where we can be.

What sort of customers do you get?

April: We have a lot of interesting customers, from all walks of life, from the judges at the courthouse to the street people. And at the end of every day, we give our extra food to the homeless.

Any particularly interesting customers?

April: We have a homeless woman—I’m sure she’s homeless; she has a shopping cart with all her belongings. She never asks for food, though. She always pays.

Steve: A lot of workers who are working on the rink behind us [buy food].

Do you have a favorite hot dog?

April: I like our jumbo hot dog with mustard and red onions.

Steve: I like it all.

What’s the most popular dog?

April: We notice that our customers are particular about what they do to the hot dog. It’s almost like they decorate it. They have color coordination going on and designs.

So, can you guys clear up a mystery for me? What are hot dogs really made out of, anyway?

Steve: I don’t know.

April: Well, as far as I can tell, it’s been a secret for years and years, and it always will be. Where we get these from [at the Carson City Sausage Factory], there’s a man named Otto, a real sausage maker from Germany, and he has all the recipes. You know, it probably says on the box, but I’ve never read it.

Do you have veggie dogs?

April: We did for a while. We do all-beef dogs for our Indian friends, and we do veggie dogs special order. [You have to call ahead.]

Is there a sense of community down here?

Steve: We’re getting a lot of support from the city, from [the] Reno Redevelopment [Agency].

April: A lot of security guards, a lot of police on horses and a lot of taxi cab drivers stop all the time … and a lot of jurors.

Are you going to stay open through the winter?

April: We’re gonna try. We’ll see how long we can stand the cold.

Steve: We’re gonna have coffee, hot chocolate and soups.