Yo, Bremerton – It’s a Dog Gone ShameJune 30th, 2009 by Chris Henry
Fans of Uptown Mike’s hot dog stand – formerly located on the
Bremerton Boardwalk — take note. Mike Lipson, a.k.a. Uptown Mike,
has relocated his business to Port Orchard, specifically the front
terrace of the Kitsap
County Administration Building at 619 Division Street.
Hot dogs and government? Well you know what they say about making sausage.
“It’s something I always thought would be a natural,” said Lipson. “In other cities, street vending by government buildings is like peanut butter and jelly.”
Lipson said on his first day, “I was slammed.”
Apparently Kitsap legislators have a greater appetite for hot dogs than Bremerton boaters.
“There was not enough traffic there to support the business,” said Lipson, explaining his move from the boardwalk.
Lipson, a Port Orchard resident five years and counting, formerly operated his stand on the Port Orchard waterfront and added the Bremerton location about two years ago. Now, he’s open at the courthouse 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and at Ace Hardware in Port Orchard’s Towne Center Mall Thursday through Sunday.
Getting a hot dog at Uptown Mike’s is as much about the experience as it is the food.
Lipson, born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, slathers on the accent – only slightly diluted by 30 years away from the Big Apple – like an extra serving of grilled onions. He sings the praises of his product with characteristic NYC hyperbole.
“You go from baby food to hot dogs. It’s on every street corner,” he said.
Lipson serves genuine Sabrett frankfurters, “the official hot dog of New York City.” That may not mean much to the general public. But to former New Yorkers like Steve Krecker, it’s the gold standard.
“Sabrett hot dogs, as far as I’m concerned, are the best hot dogs on the planet. It’s nice to be able to get them,” said Krecker, his own accent thickening with every bite.
Krecker has dogged Updown Mike from one location to another.
“Steve’s one of the anchors of the business. He grew up back east. He knows the food,” said Lipson.
OK, so what’s the big deal about Sabrett? As someone who also grew up back east, I can say from experience, there are hot dogs and then there’s Sabrett.
As I remember them, “real” New York hot dogs are plump but not spongy, with a slightly crunchy skin. Smother them with sauerkraut or tangy grilled onions in red sauce, inhale the spicy aroma (mixed with the damp cellar smell wafting out of the subway) and chomp down. Ahhh.
Theoretically all that would be missing here is the subway.
Alas, when I arrived for my meeting with the county commissioners this week, I had just eaten lunch, so I have yet to find out if Uptown Mike’s lives up to my memories.
Bremerton Beat blogger Steve Gardner, who sampled Lipson’s wares in 2007 in Port Orchard, declined to pick a favorite out of Uptown’s — then planning to locate in Bremerton — and two other Bremerton hot dog stands. Gardner recently drove out of his way to see what Snap Dogs Diner, open this year on Lund Avenue in Port Orchard, had to offer. Gardner’s obviously never met a dog he didn’t like.
So, Steve (and Bremerton) eat your heart out. At least you’ll have a good reason to look forward to those commissioners’ meetings.