Flint, MI — Growing up with nine siblings, hot dogs were a big deal for Terri DuVall’s family.

Well, actually, hot dogs were a relatively small ordeal, which is why her parents decided to have them regularly for dinner.

“My mom was a nurse and he [my dad] was in the shop so they were very busy,” DuVall explained. “It was an economical way to serve ten children.”

DuVall opened her hot dog stand, Duvall’s Dogs, in the Flint Farmers’ Market on July 27, 2023. Since then, she said she’s been having a good time bringing a childhood favorite to marketgoers.

“It’s quite fun. I mean, I love … customer service and making sure they get a good product and a reasonable price,” she said.

However, DuVall’s decision to open a hot dog restaurant was about more than just her childhood enjoyment of the treat, it was also a way of remembering family and some furry friends, too.

A history of hot dogs

Growing up, DuVall said she would often visit family in Traverse City, and they would regularly go to a hot dog restaurant there called “Hot Diggity Dog.”

It offered 75 to 100 different types of hot dog options, she estimated, and also served as her early inspiration for DuVall’s Dogs.

“I always thought it would be cool to have a hot dog stand,” she said.

Terri DuVall asks a customer what they’d like on their hot dog at her new restaurant DuVall’s Hot Dogs in the Flint Farmers’ Market on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

Joining the Flint Farmers’ Market was also a family affair, as DuVall’s uncle already owned a candle shop, Heartfelt Reflections, in the market.

In fact, her uncle was the person who to tell her when B-Dogs, the former hot dog stand at her market location, was moving on to a brick-and-mortar in Davison, Mich. DuVall now operates just across the aisle from her uncle.

Having worked in the restaurant industry for more than 40 years, the new business owner said opening her own space seemed like a good next step.

“I love service,” she said. “My husband [is] no longer here, so financially I thought this would be a better avenue to go than just, you know, bartending or serving or something like that.”

DuVall started in the restaurant industry in 1985 at age 18, working at Sorrento’s, an Italian restaurant in Flint. She worked there for 17 years serving, hosting, managing and cooking.

From there she moved to a Bob Evans for a year before working at the Flushing Valley Golf Club as a server, bartender, cook and manager for about four years, she said.

Then, she worked at Foutch’s Pub in Flint as a bartender, server and manager for five years before taking a few years away from work to care for her dad.

Now, she’s excited to be back in the industry with her own place.

“I like to be my own boss,” she said.

Dogs on the menu

DuVall said she dogs so much, there was a time when she had six pet dogs at once. So, it’s perhaps no surprise that most of her menu’s “dogs” are named after her former or current dogs.

The Marley Mac, a hot dog topped with mac-n-cheese, bacon and onion, is named for DuVall’s current 13-year-old Black Labrador Retriever, Marley.

DuVall said she named the hot dog after Marley because she liked the alliteration, and it sounded similar to her nickname for Marley, “Marley Moo.”

Kimberly Warchol-Smith holds up a freshly prepared “Marley Mac” hot dog at DuVall’s Hot Dogs in the Flint Farmers’ Market on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

Another menu item, Patty Pig, is named after DuVall’s dog who recently passed away. It’s a hot dog topped with a Flint Coney topping, bacon, mustard and onion.

“She [Patty] was a Labrador and she would just eat whatever she could, you know, that’s why she’s Patty Pig,” DuVall said.

Unlike Marley and Patty, however, the Backyard Buddy is named in honor of a person dear to DuVall: her late husband, Rick, who died in 2021.

The Backyard Buddy features Rick’s favorite toppings: baked beans, mustard, onion and crushed potato chips.

DuVall said the second day she was open, 14 members of her late husband’s family showed up and each ordered one of the 14 hot dogs available on her menu.

“When I served them the Backyard Buddy I said, ‘this is your Uncle Rick’s’,” she said.

Because of the size of and lack of ventilation options for her space, DuVall said she doesn’t have room for a grill right now, so she steams her ingredients. She currently has pork and beef hot dogs available, both of which are Koegel’s brand.

All of the 14 hot dog options on the menu are $2.50 for kids 10 and under, and $3.50 for everyone else. Here’s a complete list of DuVall’s Dogs’ offerings:

  • Flint’s Original Coney: Flint coney topping, mustard, onion
  • Dudley Dog: ketchup, mustard, onion, sweet relish
  • Cali from Chicago: mustard, onion, sweet relish, dill pickle, tomato, sport peppers
  • Marley Mac: mac-n-cheese, bacon, onion
  • South Lily: slaw, mustard, onion
  • The Ruger: Flint coney topping, sriracha mayo, sport peppers, Flaming Cheetos
  • Hot Greta: Flint coney topping, melted cheese, jalapenos, sriracha mayo, crushed Fritos
  • Backyard Annie: baked beans, bacon, crushed Doritos
  • The Chopper: melted cheese, buffalo sauce, jalapenos, blue cheese, crushed Cheez-Its
  • The Preston: mustard, ketchup, sriracha mayo, cilantro, crushed potato chips
  • Patty Pig: Flint coney topping, bacon, mustard, onion
  • Down South Lily: Flint coney topping, slaw, mustard, onion
  • Backyard Buddy: baked beans, mustard, onion, crushed potato chips
  • Honey the Weenie: mango salsa, crushed pineapple, sriracha mayo, honey sauce

Sophia is Flint Beat's City Hall reporter. She joins the team after previously reporting for the Livingston Daily and the Lansing State Journal, along with some freelance work with The New York Times....