By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jul 26, 2023 at 11:01 AM

If there's one thing you can always count on from Mitch Ciohon, it's creativity. After all, he's the chef brain behind Taco Moto – the mobile taco concept that rocked the taco scene with fillings like earthy mixed mushrooms, Dr. Pepper braised pork shoulder and killer seasonal specials.

So, you'll forgive me for my excitement (and the pun) when I say that his newest mobile concept has officially been unleashed: Dooby Dogs, a food truck that delivers on playfully named and creatively topped hot dogs. It's currently up and running four nights a week on Boone & Crockett's riverfront partio at 818 S. Water St.

Boone PatioX

If the Dooby Dogs concept seems familiar, it’s because the truck debuted briefly late last summer as a pop-up concept which also served up a menu of dogs at Boone’s Flannel Fest. But Ciohon says the labor shortage made it impossible to keep the truck open on a regular basis.  

Fortunately, all of that has changed and folks will find Dooby Dogs parked at Boone Wednesday through Sunday until the weather turns.

Dooby Dogs truckX

Behind the scenes

Ciohon, who says he’s had his eyes on opening up a hot dog truck for a few years now, says he was attracted to the inherent flexibility of the hot dog, which is fantastic topped with little more than grainy mustard or decked out with chili, cheese and any number of other creative toppings. But he also loved the idea of creating a concept through which he could pay homage to his mother, who lost her battle with breast cancer five summers ago at the age of 65.

Debi Ciohon
Debi Ciohon (Photo c/o Mitch Ciohon)

“Her name was Debi, but everybody called her Doobs,” says Ciohon, noting that the moniker stemmed from an argument over whether or not she’d taken a drag from a doobie, an accusation she persistently denied but which earned her a lifelong nickname.

For Ciohon, the nickname conjures years of memories with his mom: a strong, smart woman whose fun, magnetic personality left an impression on virtually everyone she met. That includes Ciohon and his brother Collin, both of whom benefited from her love, guidance, joyful spirit and unyielding support as they forged their ways in the world.

When it came to designing the logo for the new truck, Ciohon approached Scott Starr from RevPop. “I knew I wanted to call it Dooby Dog,” he says, “And I told him that when I pictured the script of Dooby Dogs in my head, it looked a lot like the Steely Dan logo.”

Dooby Dogs LogosX

From there, he passed along visual elements he hoped to incorporate in the branding for the truck, including the Grateful Dead lightning bolt (it's interpreted above using hot dogs) and a vintage photograph of his mother which he hoped could be used as inspiration for a pin-up-style carhop on roller skates.

Of course, Starr delivered. The logo and supporting images that he created, Ciohon says, were just perfect.

photo of mom and caricature
An old photo of Debi at Easter; Debi as a Dooby Dogs carhop pin-up

“Losing my mom sucks, and it will suck forever,” notes Ciohon. “But I’ve always done everything to make my mom proud and that will always be my goal. So to have something like this that’s named for her is really really special.”

Made-to-order river glizzies

Step up to the Dooby Dogs truck and you’ll find a menu filled with creatively topped Nathan’s all-beef hot dogs (or – if you’d prefer the trendier TikTok famous term – glizzies), which were chosen through a blind taste-test of nearly 20 different brands. 

“I wanted to support a local hot dog brand like Klement’s, but the Nathan’s dogs had the most classic hot dog flavor,” explains Ciohon, who notes the dogs are cooked on the truck’s flat-top with a hard sear on one side.  “When I was growing up, my mom always insisted that we cook them more,” he says, “So I grew up loving a slightly burnt hot dog.”

Current options include six dogs, each of which is named for a member of The Grateful Dead.

The Jerry is a take on a Sonoran hot dog with lettuce, beans, bacon bits, tomato relish, a drizzle of avocado Tabasco and aioli and a topping of crispy onions and cilantro.

The Jerry
The Jerry

The Bobby mimics a Chicago dog with toppings of pickles, jalapenos, tomato relish, mustard, red onions and celery dust.

The Bobby
The Bobby

There’s The Billy topped with arugula, kraut, a drizzle of mustard and topping of pickled mustard seeds and (of course) dust!

The Billy
The Billy

The Mickey sports arugula, corn salad, avocado Tabasco, cotija cheese, radishes and crispy onions.

The Mickey
The Mickey

Additional options include The Pig Pen (beans, queso, tomato relish, sour cream, cotija cheese, scallions, crispy onions) and The Brent (lettuce, beans, BBQ sauce, ranch, scallions and crispy onions).

And yes, there are corn dogs. Order one for $4 or get two for $6. Each comes with a choice of drizzle (mustard or aioli and ketchup). You can also add queso or house chili for $1 more.

Corn dogs
Corn dogs

Within the next couple weeks, Ciohon says they will also debut their plant-based dog topped with vegan cilantro cream, arugula, pumpkin seeds and pea-co de gallo. The dog will be called The Donna because “Like Donna, it’s an acquired taste. Some people hate it and some people love it.”

If that’s not quite clever enough for you, Ciohon says that specials will be named after the five keyboardists who took turns in the “hot seat” with The Dead over the years.

Don’t ignore the addictively snackable Dooby Dogs dusted fries, which you can get with queso for $5 or loaded up with queso, beans, bacon bits, avocado Tabasco, sour cream, jalapenos, scallions, cilantro and shredded cheese for $8.

Fries with quesoX

House chili is also available. Get it in a 12-ounce portion topped with all the fixin’s ($7).

Ultimately, there’s something for pretty much anyone, and it all tastes even better paired up with a Boone cocktail and eaten outside in the shadow of the unofficial best view of the Hon Bridge in the city.   

View of the HonX

Ciohon says that he plans to run the truck on the patio until the weather turns at which point both Taco Moto and Dooby Dogs will move inside for the winter, offering carry-out for both Boone customers and the general public.

He says he’s also hopeful that he can get a satellite location up and running at Ellwood’s Liquor & Tap, 1111 N. Water St., where the concept would operate year-round.

In the meantime, you’ll find the truck serving up premiere riverfront glizzies on the Boone patio every Thursday through Sunday from 6 p.m. to midnight.  Stay up to date by following @DoobyDogs on Instagram. 

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.