Mike Avino and Ron Siders have been best friends since they were 5.
They graduated from Bellport High School together in 2002. They went off to SUNY Oneonta for college, then both ended up working in television.
Now, they’re going into business together for the first time.
The two are opening Duke’s, a gourmet hot dog joint that will be open late nights on weekends in Patchogue Village. Joining them will be Avino’s dad, Jim.
The new Duke’s is expected to open later this month in the former Fry Daddy’s location at 58 South Ocean Avenue.
“Not too long after Catch opened up” the friends started thinking about opening a hot dog place together, Siders said.
“We got the chance [through Catch] to do catered events together, cooking side by side, serving food at Blue Point or making soup for chowder competitions,” he said. It just kind of clicked. And we figured why not do something else?”
All along, the two were thinking hot dogs.
“Hot dogs, it’s one of those things that’s always been on the back of my mind, his mind, my dad’s been talking about it for a long time,” Mike Avino said. It’s just something that we all love, and it’s something that everybody loves. It’s a universal food.”
Little known fact: Catch was almost a hot dog joint.
“We wanted to do this there, but it was a last-minute shift to go with seafood and oysters, just because the place kind of lends itself to that,” Avino said.
As they continued to kick around the idea of serving up hot dogs somewhere in Patchogue, the two started experimenting at home — by making their own dogs.
Here’s what they found:
“It’s not easy,” Avino said with a laugh. “It’s labor intensive.”
But Karl Ehmer happens to be next door to Duke’s. The butcher has been making sausages and smoked meats all over the Eastern Seaboard for four generations.
Duke’s will be buying 500 pounds of dogs at a time from their neighbors.
“It’s a special size, it’s a bigger dog and he’s only going to make it for us,” Avino said.
“And it’s nice; we’re excited to work with a neighbor,” said Siders. “Once you ask around town, where can you get the best hot dog? It’s pretty obvious it’s Karl Ehmer.”
But the Avinos, Siders and their staff will taking care of the specialty toppings, which will include chili, pulled pork, mac and cheese, and more.
“We’re going to load them up,” Siders said.
They’ll also be selling burger sliders made to order, along with Buffalo wings and sausages.
“But it’s going to be a simple menu,” Avino said.
“This way we get to do everything really well,” Siders added.
ABOUT THE NAME
There’s an often-overlooked plaque that’s buried in the concrete outside Arooga’s at Patchogue’s Four Corners intersection at Main Street and Ocean Avenue.
Here’s a picture:
“Duke was a dog that a policeman saved from drowning in a cesspool,” Avino explained “and then he became like the unofficial mascot of the police force of Patchogue in the 40s and 50s. He would ride in the sidecar of police motorcycles, and hang out at the fire department.”
Duke often stationed himself daily at the Four Corners, many locals can recall.
“He would help people cross the street,” Avino said. “There’s all these crazy stories of him saving little girls from other dogs, or saving kittens from Patchogue Lake. He was just this heroic dog that became legend after awhile.”
And that all feeds into the decor theme at Duke’s, which is going to be vintage Patchogue, with plenty old photos with an art deco vibe, Avino said.
The Duke’s space can hold about 30 people. The owners are looking to stay open until the wee hours on Fridays and Saturdays, maybe around 3 a.m.