Liam Hofmeister, inside editor
A man walked into Huntington Wine & Spirits to buy a six-pack of beer for his Friday night. Nestled on the left side of the store, he spotted Sam Rubin, owner of Rubi’s Hot Dogs.
The man smiledand greeted Rubin with a fist pound. He thanked Rubin for the hot dog he had bought last week and stayed for a passing chat.
“This is what I’ve always wanted – a chill hot dog stand for people to hang out,” Rubin said.
Rubin opened Rubi’s Hot Dogs, a 12-by-12 foot hot dog shop located inside Huntington Wine & Spirits, in late September and wants to send each booze buyer off with a gourmet meal on-the-go. He sees his place in a market yet to burst, as Rubi’s is the first hot dog stop of its kind in Massachusetts.
“Boston doesn’t have a hot dog culture,” Rubin said. “I want to ignite hot dog culture in Boston.”
Rubin said that above everything, the Rubi’s hot dog dining experience is completely customizable.
“It’s a designer dog,” Rubin said. “First, we have the Pearl-brand hot dog, which is just the epitome of a gourmet hot dog. We have all the standard condiments – ketchup, mustard, relish – but we will be expanding to exotic, cool toppings.”
A Thai peanut sauce, Greek tzatziki drizzle and curry ketchup will bring new flavor to anyone’s hot dog experience, according to Rubin. A standard hot dog costs $3.50 and a quarter-pounder costs $5 The shop also serves popcorn cooked in coconut oil, soft pretzels and Rubi’s self-bottled brew of a variety of sodas.
Though a liquor store could prohibit entrance from anyone younger than 21, all are welcome at Rubi’s. To appeal to local college students, Rubin features a specialty hot dog each week named after a local street or Northeastern University fixture.
“This week we had the Husky Dog in honor of homecoming – a dog topped with onions, peppers and a sweet pepper relish,” Rubin said. “A lot of families have come in and said they love it.”
Rubi’s serving counter is made of a polished hardwood. Columns are a calming avocado green, according to Rubin, and a small mural of a hot dog is depicted on the front panel of the serving counter, keeping the spot aesthetically separated from the liquor store.
Steve Rubin, Sam Rubin’s father and owner of Huntington Wine & Spirits, has been getting questions about having an eatery in the store for years.
“Not a lot of people know this, but we used to have a deli in the store, which we closed when the food court moved in on campus,” Steve Rubin said. “Over the years, there’s been more requests to open up the food concept on the campus.”
Steve Rubin has run the liquor store for the past 25 years, and though Rubi’s is not the star of Northeastern’s dining scene, he has high hopes.
“It’s not a Chicken Lou’s or a BHOP, yet,” Steve Rubin said. “Those are campus traditions, but I see the potential.”
Some Northeastern students have already taken to Rubi’s Hot Dogs, however. Jacob Brandt, a senior computer science major, said Rubi’s quality appeals to anyone.
“You always have to go for the big one, the quarter-pounder dog,” Brandt said. “Once you connect food and alcohol, it all goes to eating out. It just makes sense.”
Looking toward the future, Sam Rubin sees great opportunity to franchise. Rubi’s is just the prototype – he hopes to spread throughout the Boston package store industry and become a new standard for food quality and hospitality.
“I really want this to be the late night spot,” Sam Rubin said. “Maybe we’ll even have a drive-thru window. Who knows?”
Photo by Brian Bae