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As American as . . . Not Dogs?

Tue, 06/25/2024 - 13:37
Nikki Glick, who switched from jewelry to vegan hot dogs, is seen here in her 1950s-themed Nikki’s Not Dog Stand in Sag Harbor.
Christopher Gangemi

With the approach of the Fourth of July holiday, many think of fireworks. Others, perhaps, think of hot dogs; far fewer likely think of vegan hot dogs, or “not dogs.” That’s where Nikki Glick, owner of the Nikki’s Not Dog Stand, newly opened in Sag Harbor Village, sees opportunity.

“The idea is it’s eco-friendly and better for you than the traditional hot dog,” Ms. Glick said from behind her 1950s-themed countertop, nestled off Rector Street. “You don’t have to be a vegan to eat vegan food. Someone asked me if we were isolating some of the population: We’re not. Meat eaters can eat vegan hot dogs, but non-meat eaters can’t eat regular hot dogs. In a way, we’re more inclusive, not less.”

Vegan hot dogs have come a long way since the day of the tofu pup. The dog used by the stand is from Field Roast and is made of soy, pea protein, and potato starch. You may not know it didn’t contain meat, that’s how good food technology has become at mimicking the real thing.

“You have no idea how many vegan dogs I tried before opening. Most of them are not good. I was a meat eater most of my life, so I know what meat is supposed to taste like,” she said. (Ms. Glick is a pescatarian, meaning she does eat fish, but otherwise avoids meat.)

The menu, developed with Katsuji Tanabe, a chef known for his appearances on “Top Chef,” is simple. There are seven not dog varieties to choose from and, in keeping with the Americana theme, they’re named after states or cities. For example, the Texas dog is topped with salsa, vegan Monterey Jack cheese, and sliced jalapenos. It’s $10. The Chicago dog runs $12 and is topped with chopped onions, tomato slices, a pickle spear, sport peppers, electric-green relish, yellow mustard, and celery salt. A plain option runs $7 and is called the kid dog.

Vegan dessert options, in the form of brownies and blondies, come courtesy of the Greyston Bakery. For $9, one could try a vegan malted shake, and there are even more healthful soda options, like cream soda from Olipop and orange soda from Poppi.

“We wanted to keep it small, do a few things really well, and add later if we need to, versus starting too big. Also, I’ve never done this before. I want to get into the flow,” said the one-time jeweler. Ms. Glick said she intends to throw 10 percent of her profits to local food banks and has made conscious decisions regarding her containers, which, like her cups, aren’t plastic (cutlery remains stubbornly plastic, even if corn based).

The takeout counter (there are three stools) and Instagram page for the eatery hark back to a time when vegans might have been run out of Middle America, yet pine for the nostalgia of the time. There’s a complexity there. Upon Willie Mays’s death last week, Ms. Glick posted a video of him. Inside the small shop, the soundtrack is Americana, yet above the counter is a blown-up image of her mother’s first driver’s license.

“My mother was a Spanish Jew from Morocco, where she fled,” explained Ms. Glick as a song by the Beach Boys played. “She wound up in Toronto, met my father, and moved to New York.” Everywhere, it seems, as with the not dogs, there is an embrace of classic Americana with a slight twist. A Wurlitzer jukebox hangs on the wall, and while you may exit humming, “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you,” you may be left to wonder, what defines America?

Nikki’s Not Dog Stand is open Thursday through Monday, from 11:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. It’s located across the street from the Sag Harbor Police Station, next door to another takeout joint with vegan options, What the Falafel.

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