“The only wiener in town that won’t let you down”
[ By Katherine Nettles ]
Logan Uhlenhake says it was always his dream to have a hot dog stand.
He recalls that back in his hometown of Chanhassen, Minnesota, his parents still have a piece of paper at their house with his three life goals written on it from his teenage days. “They were to live in the mountains, grow a beard and have my own hot dog stand,” he says. The enthusiastic, bearded 30-something hot dog entrepreneur with Mt. Crested Butte towering in the backdrop has achieved all three of his goals, and now he has expanded horizons to becoming a father, helping local non-profits in fundraising and offering the community a free meal most Saturdays at the Four-way.
The hot dog dream may have started in high school, but Uhlenhake took a more winding path to get there. While living in St. Paul and working for breweries after college, he was visiting two of his best friends in CB in 2018 and stopped in the Eldo to offer them one of his brews.
“They offered me a job and I had moved here within 17 days,” he says. “It was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made.”
As a side job, Uhlenhake bought the hot dog stand in April of 2019, and started up on July 4 of that year. He explains the name Log Dawgs Wiener Wagon was a natural fit, since his grandfather coined the nickname “Log” for him growing up. The cart went well, and Uhlenhake says he was enjoying his version of “the grind” during that first year turning out a good business and learning the ropes of being a self-starter. Then in the spring, COVID changed things. “The world sort of shut down on March 14. And I had a ton of inventory,” he says. So, he decided to just make the most of it. “I gave away 100 hot dogs that Saturday,” he says.
“And then my buddy Brendan Weldron was like, ‘This is cool. How do we do this again?’ So, he sponsored the next week, and it just snowballed from there,” says Uhlenhake. His friends in Minnesota were seeing the social media posts and getting excited about it as well.
And what started as a neighborly gesture during the early days of COVID lockdown has grown into something much more. Uhlenhake has offered free hot dogs for 88 Saturdays out of the past two years, and says he has no end to the free lunch in sight as long as he can find partners to make it happen.
The free Log Dawgs Saturdays, which generally start at noon at the Four-way, have been sponsored by a lot of locals, local families, businesses and “homies.”
“It just keeps going,” he says. “I don’t go out and pitch myself. I just let the universe flow.”
Uhlenhake says it’s a trifecta of success: “Some person gets to help others; I get to run my hot dog stand; and someone gets a free dog. I think that’s why it just keeps going. It makes people happy.”
He says he does enjoy it when someone is skeptical and approaches the stand on a free dog day. “When they ask why is it free food, I tell them it’s a time share,” he jokes.
The Log Dawgs Wiener Wagon can be found several other days a week perched at the Four-way. While there is no set schedule, Uhlenhake is usually there on weekdays starting at 11 a.m. “Sunday is family day,” he explains, and he spends those in Gunnison where he recently relocated with his young family. He and his partner, Emily, who is also his bookkeeper, became parents in 2021 to a now eight-month-old boy named Teddy.
The couple moved to Gunnison last April, and has begun branching out to some locations at the south end of the valley and possibly beyond. “I always thought it would be tough to leave CB, but we have a garage now, and two gardens. We absolutely love it,” says Uhlenhake. He is working toward a permit for the City of Gunnison and says he may also go to Monarch and the Front Range for outdoor festivals, to spread the hot dog experience around.
The dogs are not for carnivores only. Uhlenhake proudly offers vegan hot dogs in addition to his regular dogs. His options are regular (the usual fixings), Spicy Puppy (Serrano hot sauce and maple syrup), Cheese Wizard (Cheez-Whiz and bacon bits) and Canadian Tuxedo (maple syrup and bacon).
Log Dawgs have also become a staple at outdoor music events like Alpenglow, the I Bar and Music on the Mountain. Uhlenhake has begun working various fundraisers, from Bureau of Land Management events to grassroots efforts like the CB South skate park and Save the Majestic fundraisers and donating his tips to the causes.
“I get to pour my effort into the causes that I think matter,” he says. “It’s been inspiring.”
Between the hot dog cart and his family life, Uhlenhake doesn’t do the breweries anymore, or the other odd jobs he picked up along the way. “I realized I have a viable business and I realized I wasn’t running it to its full potential. I still haven’t. But I like slow growth,” he muses. And he says he has learned a lot. “You have to rely on yourself. Which is extremely exciting, but sometimes daunting.”
For anyone concerned about a food cart in the middle of winter and all the snow and wind that comes with it, not to worry.
“I’m a Minnesota boy,” says Uhlenhake. “I’ve got all the gear.” He says his ice fishing bibs and boots suffice, and his portable propane heater helps take the edge off when necessary.
For anyone interested in sponsoring a free Saturday of Log Dawgs, Uhlenhake says the best two ways to get in touch with him are on Facebook (Logan Ryan Uhlenhake) or, “Come to my stand and meet me face-to-face, and shake my hand.”