Frankly, My Dear, They Give A Dog

Who let the dogs out in New Paltz?

H.D. Dick’s, located at 15 N. Front St. in New Paltz, which celebrated its soft-opening on July 27,  offers a frank alternative to the town dining experience, owner Jim Garofalo said.

Garofalo and LuLin Fong, his wife and business partner, have been in the hotdog business for about 25 years, Garofalo said.  Despite no formal culinary training, the two owned and operated a hot dog truck called “Hot Diggity Dogs” for years before leaving to pursue other business ventures.

It wasn’t until a close friend fell ill that Garofalo said they considered returning to work.

“This guy was just the nicest and funniest guy,” Garofalo said. “When he got sick, he encouraged us, saying he remembered how much fun we had when we did this.”

Their late friend, Richard, known as Dick for short, left such a mark on the couple that they named their new restaurant in his memory and “Hot Diggity Dick’s” was born.

The restaurant’s name attracts the attention of curious students and townies alike as they stroll down Front Street, employee and third-year sociology major Anna Mazzotta said. Little kids and college students both double-take and  laugh at the name she said, but the owners are always happy to rehash the origin story to their customers, a part of their intimate rapport with their clientele.

“We like to take names when we take orders, that way we can personalize each one,” Fong said.

Fong said it is not uncommon for someone to call out from behind the counter to ensure each order satisfies the customer. The owners relish opportunities like this that let them grow closer with the New Paltz community.

“Everyone has been very friendly, some businesses have even offered physical help if we need it,” Garofalo said.

Garofalo said the local culinary top dogs have even embraced the small restaurant and created a very welcoming atmosphere. He said he doesn’t want the shop to be competition to the old favorites, but rather an alternative and creative option.

Garofalo said the restaurant serves an abundance of  classic combinations including hotdogs, hamburgers and fresh-cut fries — what he refers to as the “core” of his menu. He hopes to expand on these favorites, introducing additional breakfast and dessert options in the coming months.

Fong said she and Garofalo want to reach out to the campus culture, even shaping their menu to include locally-themed delicacies including the “Hawk,” the “‘Mohonk’ Slaw Dog” and the “‘Gunk’ Cliff Hanger.”

“We’ve taken into account that we’re in hawk-country now,” Garofalo said.

Garafalo said that — as their walls riddled with athletic-themed magazine covers hint — they hope to indulge sports fans and eventually offer the space for game-watching once their TV is installed.

Until then, Fong said customers can still stop in to eat and maybe take home a doggy bag.

Though the couple has created a Facebook page for the shop, Garofalo said he is better acquainted with a more hands-on approach to social networking. On certain nights, when students are roaming the streets, Garofalo said he hands out his home-made potato chips, urging them to stop in some time for a bite.

“It’s awesome, this community and warmth,” Garofalo said. “This is what New Paltz is all about.”