NKC Dog is totally tubular

The Reuben Dog at NKC Dog in North Kansas City.

The Reuben Dog at NKC Dog in North Kansas City.

North Kansas City is steadily becoming a destination for great local eats. NKC Dog (101 Armour Road) is a welcome addition to an area already home to Christine’s Firehouse, known for its mighty fine pork tenderloin sandwiches, Spices superb Thai cuisine and Helen’s JAD, a local dive with an impressive array of burgers, sandwiches and pizza.

NKC Dog is owned by husband-and-wife Michelle and Caleb Barnett and friend Phillip Collins. It resides in the former home of Clay’s Curbside Grill, a popular local lunch spot recently closed by Adam and Jennifer Clay. Longtime Northland residents may recognize the large windows and doors as the old Chevy dealership.

Phillip and his father Ed, regulars at Clay’s, were dining in the restaurant in June. Curious about the popularity of the business, they began counting customers over lunch and multiplying that number by an estimated average dollar sales per ticket. While they were calculating the math, Jennifer Clay approached the table.

“She told us that the restaurant was closing,” Phillip says. “They were moving to California. She asked if we were interested in taking over the business. It’s an icon in North Kansas City. We couldn’t let it disappear.”

Phillip discussed the idea with his friend Caleb, who is a co-worker at nearby Burlington Mattress, and Michelle. With support from Ed, the trio assumed ownership of the business and rebranded the name.

“Michelle shadowed Adam and Jennifer and worked from their recipes,” Phillip says. “We learned their processes, made a few improvements to the space and opened on July 17th, two weeks after getting the keys.”

“It’s a great business model,” says Michelle. “It wasn’t broke so we’re not fixing it.”

Besides a fresh coat of paint, new flooring and setting up a modern register system versus hand-written tickets, the food and serve remain similar to what customer’s loved about Clay’s.

NKC Dog uses only meat from Scimeca’s, buns from Roma Bakery and local produce when available. Each order is prepared outside of the dining room at a hotdog cart rigged with a griddle. Customers get a street-style experience with upscale ingredients and quality in a restaurant setting.

Best-selling sandwiches include the Chicago Dog, KC Dog and Reuben. The Chicago Dog includes the must-have ingredients: nuclear relish, sport peppers and celery salt. The KC Dog tops Italian sausage with bacon, white onions and barbeque sauce.

The Reuben Dog rivals the classic sandwich in deliciousness. All-beef hot dog with corned beef? Check. Sauerkraut? Check. Swiss cheese, Thousand Island sauce and marble rye bun? Check, check, check. Phillip claims that the Reuben Dog is so good that it has ruined the sandwich for him.

Customers can add any side ingredient for a small charge to any dog on the menu.

The Heaven and Hell Dog is not your typical dog.

The Heaven and Hell Dog is not your typical dog.

NKC Dog also offers rotating weekly specials such as the Swiss and mushroom dog that delivers loads of flavor on an Italian sausage. Heaven and Hell is perhaps the most inventive concoction, featuring cream cheese, fried onions, pepper jack cheese and sriracha sauce on a bratwurst. Crazy as it sounds, the sandwich is spicy, crunchy and creamy, both utterly satisfying and filling.

Coming soon, the owners plan to bring back the popular Philly sandwich, using rib-eye beef. They have other culinary ideas in mind, but want to focus on the current menu for now. NKC Dog hopes to offer local beer in cans or bottles by next spring.

Meanwhile, NKC Dog keeps cooking orders as fast as they can to meet demand during the lunch rush and retain their standing as top dog in town.

petedulin

Pete Dulin is a Kansas City-based writer and author of Last Bite: 100 Simple Recipes from Kansas City's Best Chefs and Cooks. http://lastbitecookbook.com/

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