When Lola, a 6-month-old Labrador/pit bull mix, was first adopted by Jeff and Caroline Stevens, she seemed to know that it was meant to be.
“She had just gotten turned in that day (and was) the only dog not barking,” Jeff said, remembering the day he met the sweet dog with an expressive face at the Calaveras Humane Society two-and-a-half years ago. “She was just looking at us like, ‘Adopt me! Adopt me!’ We said, ‘That’s the one.’”
What Lola and her new pup parents did not know was that, within a few short years, her likeness would grace the side of a hot dog stand in Arnold.
Wassup Dawg has brought retirement bliss for the Stevenses, who enjoy nothing more than spending time together and greeting patrons who make up the community of their chosen forever town. Customers are drawn to the affordable prices of the tasty Costco frankfurters as well as the amiable proprietors; and the mobile establishment, often parked in the Grizzly Plaza next to Highway 4 around lunch time, has already sold about 1,500 hot dogs since debuting six weeks ago.
Loyal customer Randy Kruger visits the stand weekly to order his favorite Polish dog with regular mustard and “a little relish,” often bringing friends and family to enjoy the fare.
“I think this is great,” he said while waiting in line for a late lunch. “There’s been a big turnout in the beginning. I hope it stays that way.”
Though their hours will wane with the changing weather, Wassup Dawg has a small but dedicated following on their Facebook page, where they announce their availability each day. The stand usually remains open until selling out, which isn’t difficult among local workers who are looking for some quick and delicious variety in a town with very few lunch options.
“Everybody likes a hot dog. Everybody,” Jeff said. “(Caroline) puts everything on there perfectly, so with every bite you get something good.”
The couple has plans to take their cart, which was assembled in Michigan according to California food preparation regulations, to future events including the Frogtown Classic BMX Days Oct. 22-24. While Wassup Dawg is a true investment of time and money, it is also a valuable source of happiness.
“It’s fun. I look forward to it,” said Caroline of her hours spent crafting dogs in the great outdoors. With a background in sales and marketing, she has no prior experience in the restaurant industry, nor does Jeff, who had a career in heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The couple moved from San Ramon to Arnold roughly three-and-a-half years ago and don’t intend to ever leave.
Caroline says what she enjoys most about selling hot dogs is the community.
“We know more people in Arnold than we do in San Ramon,” she said.
As the Wassup Dawg mascot, Lola also seems to delight in greeting customers, who often bring along their own pups. The hardworking ambassador is frequently rewarded for her efforts with a hotdog treat of her own. In her family’s words, Lola is, in fact, “the greatest dog.”