You may have seen his cart in a drunken haze late one night, or perhaps you’ve eaten his food when you’ve had an uncontrollable case of the munchies. But many fail to realize how important his presence is to the Kent community.
A Kent State graduate and current resident, the Dawgfather happily serves the current students every Thursday through Saturday night with his grill and barbeque stand. Posted on the corner of Franklin and Main streets behind the gazebo, it’s a short walk from any of the bars in downtown.
Starting the business in early 2004 with a friend when their day jobs struggled, the pair chose to invest in a food cart to earn some extra money. Soon after though, his friend’s tree business picked up and The Dawgfather decided to buy the remaining shares and continue on with the name. Deciding on hot dogs because “everyone loves hot dogs and they remind me of my childhood.”
The Dawgfather soon saw his business grow and eventually expand into two carts: the main cart in Kent, which is run by him and his son, and the other in Akron, run by an employee.
But who is the Dawgfather?
Well, the man behind the Dawgfather is not as important as the persona he’s helped create. He answers to the Dawgfather in every instance and keeps his real name secret because to him, it’s not important. He is the Dawgfather and his small business is his pride and joy. It allows him to be a hero to hungry college kids and give work to a few extra people caught in a bad recession.
Taking his name from his love of the Cleveland Browns, the Dawgfather feels as if he’s helping the city in a bigger way then some realize.
“I’m helping the city by serving these kids food,” the Dawgfather says. “There’s nowhere around where they can get food, and they all have alcohol in their system so you don’t know what they’re going to do. I’m helping to prevent a riot.”
In a single night, The Dawgfather Grill and BBQ can sell up to four or five pounds of steak, four pounds of gyro meat, 80 to 90 hot dogs and 20 to 30 Italian sausages.
One question that remains on some people’s minds is the disappearance of the other food cart that perched at the same corner and served the same types of food. Is there some connection with the Dawgfather? There is a connection between the Dawgfather and the now disappeared Gyro Bob, but it’s not as dramatic as one would think.
“Me and Gyro Bob were friends,” the Dawgfather admits. “We both had our own corners and did good business, the town was big enough for both of us. I think he just got burned out on being out there all the time.”
While Gyro Bob may have thrown in the towel, don’t expect the Dawgfather to do the same. He has a busy couple of months ahead of him with homecoming and Halloween only weeks away, and with only him out there now, he won’t be able to feed everyone.
“What I’ve learned is that you need patience and endurance to be out there night after night,” the Dawgfather revealed. “But I’m still learning every night.”
Much like Batman, he will continue to hold his post every night, waiting in the shadows until the community needs his help, graciously offering his service to help every chance he gets.