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Father, Son Bring Hot Dog Business Venture to Clawson

Big City Dogs on West 14 Mile Road recently opened its doors, offering a full menu of specialty hot dogs.

For the past two years or so, Jerry Lowell and son Jerrett Lowell have been selling hot dogs off a cart at festivals and community events throughout Michigan.

The Lowells, both of Almont, decided to start the business venture after the recession took a toll on Jerry Lowell's 25-year career in construction.

"The economy took a dump, so we wanted to do something different," said Jerry Lowell, 47.

But the Lowells soon realized that rolling a cart around events was only profitable in the warmer months, and they needed to open a restaurant to gain more business year-round. 

So they searched the Metro Detroit area and came across Clawson — a community they say fits their business model: "small-town charm, big city taste." Big City Dogs opened its doors to the public June 27.

They expanded their menu from plain hot dogs with ketchup and mustard to more than a dozen unique hot dogs. Perhaps the most famous is the Chicago-style dog in a poppy seed bun, topped with mustard, relish, onion, tomato, pickle, sport peppers and celery salt. Other hot dogs include the Detroit coney dog, Mexican dog, breakfast dog, BLT dog and Clawson dog which is wrapped in a tortilla topped with bacon, chili, cheese, onions and mustard.

Big City Dogs also offers a veggie dog, which has a dill pickle (in place of a hot dog), lettuce, tomatoes and salsa, and a build-your-own hot dog.

The hot dog prices range from $1.80 to $2.55. Sides include fries, mozzarella sticks, nachos, coleslaw, soups and salads.

The Lowells say some of the the hot dog recipes were original, while others they mixed up and taste-tested on their own. Jerrett Lowell, 23, said the hot dogs are made to order. "Everything is fresh," he said. 

"Everyone loves hot dogs," Jerrett Lowell said. "I love talking to people and giving them great food."

Holly and Julia Belian of Ferndale stopped in Big City Dogs on Friday after visiting next door. As a Chicago native, Holly Belian said she was excited to try the restaurant's Chicago dog.

"We had to find out if they had a good Chicago dog," Julia Belian said.

"Awesome," the Belians said when asked how they enjoyed the hot dogs.

Patrons such as Martin Carey of Clawson said they were simply happy about having the Chicago-style hot dog right in their backyard.

"I live down the street," Carey said. "I was excited because it's closer than Hippo's Hot Dogs (in Troy)."

The Lowells say the Clawson community has been very supportive of their new restaurant, and they usually get two business rushes a day. Jerrett Lowell said they do have their sights set on expanding Big City Dogs.

"If this one is successful, we'd like to open up more," he said.

Big City Dogs is located at 139 W. 14 Mile in Clawson. Its hours are 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. Click here to visit its Facebook page.

michael J July 09, 2011 at 12:12 PM
Jerry, cut the son loose, get into the building at 15&Main, it has a drive thru, on the corner, Clawson and guest could use two Detroit Dogs, on the corner has some inside sitting and as I said the drive thru window, perfect? Put the son in there.
Todd Davis July 09, 2011 at 01:47 PM
Congratulations on opening! I met the two of them last February at the Heating It Up event and sampled some of their hotdogs. Great concept, great guys, congrats again!
michael J July 09, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Jerry cutting loose, I mean untie the appron strings, and set him up in the North Gate area, your already thinking of expanding, The place seems the right size, Not saying leave the dda, just expand in Clawson, 15 or maple has a different drive pattern, and right on the corners there, there is nothing to do a quick and grab, yes there are the big brothers a block or so down, but right at the light. if you need some help?
Ken Case July 09, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Just was there for my second visit. Had the Clawson dog and the Chicago-styled dog. YUM! I will be back!
Karen Morgan July 27, 2011 at 09:44 PM
I have been there at least 6 times since Big City Dogs has opened...it is fantastic! The Carolina Dog is the best...Thanks for coming to Clawson!!

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