Like Subway for weenies: Hippie Hot Dog opens on the west side of town

Toria Barnhart

| Chillicothe Gazette

CHILLICOTHE — Just before 1970, Bo McCoy was in the back seat of his mother’s car, listening to funky tunes emitting from the radio as they drove to an area hot dog stand. 50 years later, McCoy still remembers that day — feeling peace and love and the taste of hot dogs.

It’s a positive memory to McCoy. And it’s one that may have been a subconscious factor in his decision to open Hippie Hot Dog, located at 431 Western Avenue, late last month. The new restaurant features a simple, comfort food that customers can customize any way they want. From the shop, McCoy hopes to not only provide nourishment by food but by also providing a place of unity and community.

“Everyone is scared because of COVID-19 and because of the political climate,” he said. “I kept thinking about doing something positive so I came up with peace, love and hotdogs. That’s the entire recipe.”

McCoy, who is originally from southern Georgia, moved to Chillicothe in 2005 looking to start a business. Locally, he opened a vape and CBD shop, and down south he owns a few sushi restaurants.

About a year ago, McCoy was talking to a friend about how he wanted to open an eatery here in Chillicothe. He noticed that the area was saturated with similar styles of cuisine and he craved to do something different. Inspired by the comfort foods of his youth, McCoy developed a playful take on a simple, beloved, American classic.

Hippie Hot Dog is like Subway — except instead of sandwiches, patrons can customize their own weenie.

Before customers even enter the establishment, the nostalgia of the 1960s and 1970s is evident. Outside customers are greeted with a large tie-dye peace sign flag and signs that read “hippies use side door.” Once inside, the walls have been painted an assortment of colors and are decorated with symbols of the era. Roadsigns for Grateful Dead Blvd and Fleetwood Mac Ave are present on the walls along with reminders to “be groovy or be gone.”

For McCoy, it’s a way to recognize a time in American history where the nation was divided but came together through a movement of love and harmony.

Despite the start of the coronavirus in March, McCoy refused to let it postpone his dreams of opening up Hippie Hot Dog. In fact, he believes that remaining home from March to August actually pushed him to go through with the idea in order to create something positive in the community.

“I’ve been called idealistic. Maybe that’s true,” he said. “But I live my life this way. It’s my core belief that we need hope. I know the dream is bigger than reality but we like to dream.”

Continuing the 70’s theme, many menu items are named after notable figures of that time like the Austin Powers jumbo footlong combo. The meal features an all-beef, eight-ounce hot dog that’s served with the customer’s choice of toppings or the Easy Rider which is a 4 oz beef dog with chili, cheese and onion. Customers can also create their own signature items based on the vibe they feel at the time of ordering.

McCoy describes the first day of business as the most amazing and scary day he’s ever lived. When the crew came in, they were ready and excited to work. Yet they learned that over the weekend, two of their prep coolers had shut off causing them to lose all of their produce. Staff members quickly ran to the store to purchase more but the kitchen was already an hour behind.

By opening time at 11 a.m., McCoy expected there to only be a handful of customers. Yet the line was already out the door and into the parking lot. For a brief time, McCoy opted to close the restaurant to allow the staff to regroup. After reopening, they realized they wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand and ensure quality customer service so they closed early.

Afterward, the team spent time looking at their successes, failures and what they needed to do to prepare for tomorrow. The next day, they were better. Since then, McCoy said the team has consistently improved although they are still perfecting the process. And within two short weeks of business, Hippie Hot Dog has already served 1,000 customers.

In the future, McCoy wants his restaurant to be a place where families, friends and others in the community gather to let go of their worries and enjoy a nice meal together. Once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, he hopes the spot will become a cool place to hang out on the west side of town.

To McCoy, Hippie Hot Dog is an embodiment of who he is, how he lives his life and the inspiration he hopes to serve others. He hopes that by bringing hippie back, the community and nation can change for the better. From his establishment, McCoy simply strives to provide an opportunity for others to create lasting memories and find new hope with their friends and family.

“Any time I listen to music from that era it brings me back to that moment in the car,” he said. “Maybe we’re making more positive memories here. I hope one day, 20 years from now, someone will remember having hot dogs here with their family.”

Hippie Hot Dog opens at 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday and noon on Sundays. The restaurant closes at 7 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Food can also be ordered online by visiting https://hippyhotdog.com/

Have a story tip or comment? Contact Toria at [email protected] or 740-349-1106. Follow her on Twitter @ToriaBarnhart.

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