They're known as the "hot dog hotties," but they're not selling hot dogs. Though, it's easy to see why people -- notably those, shall we say, especially happy people leaving the bars in the wee hours of the morning -- might get confused.
Like the late-night Downtown hot dog vendors, Mark Miller and Chad Mydlowski sell hot food to the hungry masses from a small cart. Only, rather than wieners, they're pushing gyros.
The cleverly-named American Euros cart hit the streets of Milwaukee about a month ago and can be found at the intersection of Water Street and Juneau Avenue Thursday through Saturday from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m.
It's a corner that has recently become something of a hotbed for quick and easy bar time eating options, as the city's street food sector rapidly expands. But Mydlowski says he's yet to experience any negativity from competing vendors.
"It's like putting a Taco Bell next to a McDonald's. They have totally different varieties of food. Are they going to be mad at each other? No. We've had a couple complaints that we're intruding on someone's "area," but we just offered them a free gyro and it's been OK."
One thing's for sure; you certainly won't have any problem deciphering which cart is theirs. They'll be the ones in crisp, clean white dress shirts, skinny black ties and retro Run-DMC baseball caps.
There's also the ghettoblaster, playing old-school hip-hop and R&B classics.
"There's just so much energy around the cart," says Miller. "People hang out there; it's fun."
When it comes down to the food, American Euros keeps it fairly simple. Customers choose from chicken or lamb -- or a combo of both -- marinated in a homemade broth and carved fresh daily at their service kitchen in West Milwaukee. The gyros are reasonably priced at $4 and come "wrapped up like a Sno-cone" in a 6-inch pita bread.
There are many ways to prepare a gyro, and Miller took inspiration from his travels when creating his sandwich. In addition to the standard tomato and onion, he opted for extras like Asian-style hot sauce, as he'd fallen in love with in New York City, and lettuce, which he found to be popular in Germany.
And how could he forget practices from his own Greek heritage?
"Everywhere in Greece they make fresh cut fries and put three or four on their gyro and wrap it up. It's really good, so we're doing that."
On a local level, they've heeded to the call for cheese and now offer a sprinkling of feta for an extra $1.
As lovers of food coming from culinary-focused families, both Miller and Mydlowski grew up in Milwaukee with a shared dream of opening a restaurant together. After extensive world traveling, they decided quality curbside cuisine was the right way to go. Miller says he just knew it was the right time.
"We went to New York and everyone was selling gyros and we thought, "This is perfect. Milwaukee needs this.'"
Miller says they want to expand to more carts in various locations and, eventually, open a permanent restaurant. But for nor now, you'll find them outside Duke's on Water on the weekends, and in front of the Downtown U.S. Bank building on Tuesdays for lunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”