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Superdog returns, prepares to welcome back Welch Avenue nightlife

Superdog+returns%2C+prepares+to+welcome+back+Welch+Avenue+nightlife
Yue Wu

After disappearing off the face of the earth, the crowned jewel of post-bar eats has returned to Welch Avenue; the Superdog is back. A beloved choice of inebriated Cyclones trying to get back home after a night out, the Superdog has been resurrected and is here to stay.  

Consisting of an all-beef hotdog on a hoagie bun, Superdogs are topped with melted Monterey jack cheese, crispy bacon, crushed potato chips and five sauces including ketchup, mustard, garlic cilantro, pineapple puree and Superdog’s very own secret sauce. 

Originally opening in 2003, this year marks the 20th nonconsecutive year of the Superdog stand. The business was purchased from its original owner in 2005 by Matthew Goodman, who also owned the renowned gyro stand on Welch Avenue.

He eventually became business partners with his employee, Chad Watkins, in 2014 as the two worked together to create a name for themselves, and their fabled Superdog. Following 16 years of management under Goodman and Watkins, Smiles & Gyros Co. opted to sell off the Superdog portion of their business. 

After a three-year disappearance of the esteemed Welch Avenue food cart, a new owner, Max Peterson, has returned to bring Superdog back to its original glory.

“Max was a student here in the mid to early 2010s and just really loved Superdogs, so after graduating, he worked with the previous owners to buy the licensing, buy the recipe, buy the cart. Everything’s back to the original,” Superdog employee Hunter Pope said. “It’s just a love for Superdog. We all missed it after going to Iowa State football games or tailgating, and not being able to come back to Welch and get one.”

Superdog location on Welch Avenue.

The Superdog stand typically sits just outside of BNC Fieldhouse and across the street from Pizza Pit. Although hours of operation can vary due to weather conditions, Superdog typically sets up shop at its usual Welch Avenue location from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

A classic Superdog costs $7.50, but other menu options are available including chili cheese dogs and veggie Superdogs, which feature a plant-based frank. In addition to food, bottled water and Gatorade are also available for purchase.

Pope began working for Superdog amidst its reopening process over the past few weeks. Although sub-zero temperatures have made attracting business a challenge, Pope said he enjoyed every second of the experience and is excited for what the future of Superdog holds. 

“My family owned a hot dog shop when I was in high school, so it’s a little bit of nostalgia for me,” Pope said. “It’s really a great environment, kind of being out in the wild… and you get to run into your friends when they’re incoherent and inebriated.”

Pope discussed that he was thrilled to find out Superdog would be returning as he believes it is a vital part of the Welch scene and an Iowa State tradition itself.

“Superdog is just a great legacy brand that provides a variety of foods, just like Omar’s Gyros and the Philly cheesesteak stand… it really just adds to that Welch culture,” Pope said.

Photo of Superdog’s first customer since its relaunch. Courtesy of Superdog on Facebook.

Though the weather has provided a challenge, Superdog has received a warm welcome back by many members of the Iowa State and Ames community. Superdog took to Facebook on Jan. 6 to share the story of its first customer since reopening.

“Our first customer in two years! He was traveling from Minneapolis to Kansas City when he saw our opening announcement on Facebook,” the post stated. “After putting Welch Avenue into his GPS, it gave him an ETA of 8:45pm, right when we opened! It was meant to be. Thanks for the fun story!”

Other community members have shared their support via social media, expressing their excitement for the return of the beloved food stand whilst reminiscing about late nights on Welch Avenue. 

“Oh the memories!” Brittney Chiasson commented on a Superdog Facebook post. 

“Thank you for the Superdog last night! It was awesome,” customer Derek Olsthoorn shared on Instagram.

As Superdog battles the brutal Iowa winter, loyal customers continue to demonstrate their unwavering support by showing up for the fabled Ames delicacy despite below-zero conditions.

“The weather has been killing us, but I will say the community is pretty strong. They’re tougher than I would be. They’ve waited in line for the Superdog, they’ve been super supportive on Facebook and all of our social media,” Pope said. “A lot of students that might have known about Superdog have graduated and left so we’re just kind of rebuilding the brand with the students in that community.”

The return of this iconic food stand has already satisfied the cravings of numerous Welch bargoers while also reigniting cherished memories of many, forged over late-night Superdogs. So, the next time you find yourself stumbling home from a night out on Welch, you can stop by and indulge in the Ames tradition that has once again resurrected: The Superdog.

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