Hard work means good food at Duffy's Dog House
Ending up in the dog house in Zelienople is not such a negative fate if that place happens to be Duffy's.
Duffy's Dog House in the south end of Main Street is a tiny box squeezed “between the Coin Laundry and Meyer's Tires” as the menu says. It's easy to spot when you know it's there, and it is worth a search otherwise.
“This is just a dream for me,” says owner Duffy Daugherty of nearby Fombell, Beaver County. “I was doing construction, and one day I went into a hot dog shop and decided that would be a good thing to do. I heard about this place, and that was that.”
Duffy's defines the word “tiny.” Squeezed into its slot, it offers seating for, oh, maybe nine, if some of the customers are skinny. It consists of the kitchen and a dining area with two booths and a counter. In a recent visit, there was as much take-out as there was dine-in, which makes sense.
One benefit to eating in at Duffy's is taking in the decor that fills the place.
A native of West View, Daugherty has filled most of the wall space — not that there is much — with pictures of West View Park. Most of them are of the coasters that once were there, known at the time as the Dips and the Racing Whippet.
“My dad always told me not to forget where you came from,” he says about those photos.
The walls also feature a good number of shots of the Three Stooges “cause I like good, mindless comedy,” Daugherty says.
But whether a diner is eating in or dining out, the food at Duffy's is the most important thing.
Daugherty says he tries for fresh offerings, so he makes his own chili on the site and uses meat from a local butcher. The hot dogs — obviously, the heart of the place — are from a little farther, Smith's Hot Dogs in Erie. Daugherty offers a selection of wiener wonders from the Floater ($2.25), a deep-fried, natural casing dog topped with chili sauce, jalapenos and a bunch of other toppings, to the Old German ($1.55) with sauerkraut and brown mustard.
The selection starts at the basic Duffy's Dogs ($1.35) and rolls through Sloppy Dogs ($1.59) with chili sauce and cheese or bacon and cheese for $1.79.
There's even a Surf ‘n' Turf ($2.95) which is a dog, tuna salad, and melted cheese on a bun.
The menu goes other directions, too, including burgers ($3.85), a Philly-style cheesesteak ($7.45), and a gyro ($5.75).
But dogs make their way onto that side of the bill, too. The Double Weenie Burger ($4.95) is a burger served with two split and grilled dogs.
A hot dog shop would seem to be a lunch spot primarily or even a place for a quick, informal dinner, but Daugherty opens at 7 a.m. and has some breakfast traffic with his breakfast sandwich ($6.75), which is hotdogs, an egg and cheese on a roll; a Spam, egg and cheese ($2.55); and the traditional sausage, egg and cheese ($2.69).
Sides include cheese fries ($2.25 to $3.65), onion rings ($3.25), three deep-fried pickles ($2.69) and 12 corn balls ($2.59).
Just as the menu is down to earth, Daugherty's business attitude also is without pretense. He says the success of the shop is hinged on the work of his staff: Merilee Kasing, Sylvia Krchmar and Bill Guerra, along with the bookwork and advertising of his girlfriend, Kathy Naglich.
Hard work and good food keep the shop going, he says.
Duffy's Dog House, 716 S. Main St., Zelienople, is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Details: 724-452-9367
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7852.