U-Dog, We Hardly Knew Ye
The premise was perfect: Sell only hot dogs and sausages for 92 cents–priced so as to cost an even $1 dollar after tax. Brilliant. The marketing hook, was pure gold–“U-Dog” would be shorthand for a fictional University of Hot Dogs. And so they burst on to the scene in Westwood, taking a storefront between In-N-Out and the Buck Fiddy sub shack. Students (dudes mainly) collected before their plasma tuned to MTV or some NCAA action and pounded dogs, brats and Pepsi standing up. Out of eight reviews on www.bruinfood.com, U-Dog averaged 3.875 stars out of 5. Things were looking good for U-Dog.
But after a few months the time came for U-Dog to raise prices, and the former $1 dollar bargains were hastily hidden behind crude paper signs bearing prices of $1.99–an unwieldy $2.16 after tax. Filthy coins now had to be fished out of pockets in the transactions. And thereby went the kids. Apparently, there is some kind of complex mathematical correlation between the price of an item and the number said items that will sell.
And so U-Dog has gone out with a whimper, the dreaded tombstone of retail, the For Lease sign, now hanging in their window. Sadder still, they had to shutter during the summer, not even able to say goodbye to the students away at camp. When they return in September, where will they go in Westwood for a good bratwurst or chicken-apple-sausage dog? Where?
UCLA’s paper, the Daily Bruin, covered the story of the closure of U-Dog. Curiously though, they do not have any comment from anyone actually affiliated with U-Dog, just quotes from competing restaurants, who, unsurprisingly, make desparaging remarks about their former competition and tinge their comments in a way so as to discourage new competition in the Village.
A further examination of the exchanges between the newspaper and U-Dog reveals a clear Daily Bruin agenda against the gourmet hot dog restaurant. First, a sarcastic column of faux praise for U-Dog ran late last year. Then it seems that the Daily Bruin published a list of “Places in Westwood to Avoid Eating At” (sic) and, no surprise, included U-Dog on the dubious list. This prompted the then-manager of U-Dog to respond with an Op-Ed piece, defending his restaurant. Curiously, the original list piece is now no longer available in the online archives of the Daily Bruin. These earlier biased mentions of U-Dog in their pages are suspiciously omitted from the Daily Bruin story of their ultimate closure. Did the Daily Bruin have a vendetta against U-Dog? Did they bring down U-Dog? Was Buck Fiddy in on the hit? We are not accusing anyone, but simply saying someone should investigate this.
P.S. This location would be great for my new fast food venture, DIPPERZ. I am still raising capital. If you are interested, contact me through the website and I will send you an investor packet. Or if you know where I can get good second-hand deep fryers. Thanks.