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Ryan's Hot Dogs is frank about good, casual food

| Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010

Ryan's Hot Dogs has the casual Pittsburgh dining community figured out, and caters to it.

"It's kind of a pizza, hoagie and hot dog kind of town," says Mandi Stephenson, co-manager along with her husband, Jason.

Ryan's Hot Dogs opened in Coraopolis, right on the main drag, in July, after moving from its previous location in Zelienople. It has received a good flow of customer traffic since then, with diners including workers from Coraopolis businesses, police officers, and college students from nearby Robert Morris University in Moon, who can see team jerseys hanging up on the wall. RMU students, veterans, police officers and firefighters all get 10 percent discounts.

Still, the restaurant is less than a year old, and many people don't know about it, says Jason Stephenson.

"It just needs a little time for people to realize we're here," he says.

Besides the tasty food, what draws people to Ryan's Hot Dogs is the names for the Berks-brand dogs -- each of which are named after a sports team, Jason Stephenson says. The Penguin, probably the top seller, features chili, cheese and onions. Fries and coleslaw top The Pirate. The Mountaineer features mustard, Ryan's sauce, coleslaw and onion. Barbecue sauce and coleslaw decorate The Panther, and The Duke is deep-fried, wrapped in bacon, and served with Ryan's sauce and onions. All of these specialty dogs -- including a create-your-own option -- cost $2.60. A simple hot dog -- with standard toppings like ketchup, mustard and relish -- costs $1.60. The lunch basket special features a standard hot dog, fresh-cut fries, and a drink for $4.50.

"People love their hot dogs," she says. "There are people that come here every single day, and get the same thing every day. We see them parking and we start their order."

The sporty hot dog names sometimes spark a feeling of rivalry, Mandi Stephenson says.

"There are ... people who say, 'I'm a football fan, but there's no way I'm eating a Raider,' " she says, laughing.

But, once they find out that The Raider -- with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing -- refers to the Cornell High School Raiders, and not the NFL ones in Oakland, the customers say, 'OK, I'll eat it,' " she says.

It's not just hot dogs on the menu at Ryan's, which also has an array of breakfast foods, including cereals and doughnuts. Breakfast sandwiches with egg and cheese cost $2.99, or $3.25 with sausage or bacon. Ryan's also has a plate with two eggs, bacon or sausage, and home fries for $4.25. Two breakfast burritos -- either meatless, or with sausage or bacon -- sell for $4.25. The Saturday breakfast special -- with sausage gravy over a biscuit, two eggs and toast for $2.99 -- is a customer favorite.

Being a Pittsburgh-y kind of place, Ryan's also has pierogies: deep-fried ones, with sauteed onion and sour cream, for $3.99. Ryan's also makes its own soups for $2.50 a bowl, nachos grande for $2.75, and more.

And, who's Ryan• He's the 1 1/2-year-old grandson of the owner, Jack Cairns.

Additional Information:

Ryan's Hot Dogs,

Location: 431 Mill St., Coraopolis

Hours: 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Breakfast food is served until 10 a.m. on weekdays, and 11 a.m. on weekends.

Details: 412-262-7200 or website

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