East Lansing is going to the dogs.
Twelve, to be exact. But maybe more.
"I have 12 kinds of gourmet hot dogs on my menu," says Derrick Austin, co-owner of the recently opened Spartan Coney in East Lansing. "One of my favorites is the Jamaican. I also make a slaw dog, a BLT dog, one with bacon strips and spicy mustard, and a mac-n-cheese dog. And, of course, I can't leave out Chicago, New York and Coney Dogs."
Austin boasts at least four more dog delicacies, with several featuring his very own Coney sauce. He also gets creative with fries, topping taters with garlic parmesan, steak seasoning, Cajun spice, BBQ sauce, and, of course, chili.
"I have several types of chili," says Austin. "I make it hearty. I use ground turkey and ground pork in a lot of my chili, and I make a meatball and club chili. I could go on and on."
Austin's dogged delights are prepped in what he describes as a "small cubby hole" adjacent to Moe's Southwest Grill
, which he also manages. He says his boss asked him what he wanted to do with the space, and gave him the option of pizza or hotdogs. Of course, Austin says, he went for the dogs, and opened Spartan Coney in September 2013.
Austin plans to build the menu of his grab-and-go venue, with one idea being convenient lighter fare like fruit cups and salads. He's also playing with the idea of offering a twist on funnel cakes—a county fair staple also known as elephant ears.
Austin grew up in Lansing and went to culinary school in Atlanta, Georgia. And while he's been in the food industry for nearly 30 years, he says he learned a lot about cooking from his mom and grandma.
"I'm from a family of nine boys and one girl," he says. "I was in the kitchen all the time, and it just caught on from there."
Source: Derrick Austin, Co-owner, Spartan Coney
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor