Weenie Wizard is a PVD-based artisanal hot dog stand that offers a constantly shifting array of meat, veggie and carrot dogs with highly original and creative toppings. Created by Michele Fryer and Luke Tabor, aka the Fantastical Food Group, The Meat MAGICIANS, as they are known, have expanded from their speakeasy-esque DIY origins in 2014 to being a fully licensed food provider, offering their signature dogs at a variety of pop-up spaces and events.
Not a food truck nor a brick and mortar restaurant, Weenie Wizard’s innovative approach to food production borrows from guerilla-to-mainstream conversion tactics followed by many other forms of art, as well as politicians.
In selling hot dogs, the wizards have a unique vantage point from which to observe and understand the wide array of patrons who frequent their stand. On a fun episode of The Bartholomewtown Podcast, Michele and Luke describe their experiences in making hot dog magic in Providence.
Bill Bartholomew (Motif): You each have such an interesting lens into Providence with the different types of people who must come up to your stand. Do you experience that?
Luke Tabor: I think you’ve actually hit it on the head. Definitely!
Hot dogs almost give us a leg up because everyone can come to it and enjoy it and it has this familiarity. But that familiarity we can use as a vehicle to play with a lot of different flavors and different exotic things. From a little kid to an 80-year-old man, it definitely can be very cross cultural. Any age.
Oh, and then obviously as you know, as a vegetarian, we have veggie dogs and carrot dogs.
BB: Let’s talk about Providence right now. What do you see as the future of Providence? I’ve been thinking the last few weeks — it’s got to be like a 25-year plan for the city to really work and really get going the way we want. Although, there are things today that are basically the same as what we would want the future. What do you think?
Michele Fryer: Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely something we think a little about, a lot about, you know, wanting to invest in this community and create a small business and really make sure that it’s a place that we can be successful with people who are receptive to our ideas. And it’s amazing seeing so many creative people out on the streets who are responding to us and doing their own thing — really coming up with all these unique things. But it does seem like it’s still gonna take a while, and I think probably on a larger level of the city really investing in the creative small business capital that I feel like has been ignored sometimes for some larger projects that don’t always trickle down.
I feel like there tends to be a lot of talk about the creative capital, but there needs to be some more obvious steps toward bringing that to fruition.
From our point of view, if you think of some other towns around the country that are the same kind of vibe as us, like if you think of Austin, Texas, or just some other kind of artsy places, they have food truck areas and there’s less of a barrier to entry. They have this gathering space that can go with art, music and food.
BB: There’s like a similar feeling when you bite into a Weenie Wizard dog that you get if you’re at a Lightning Bolt show or whatever it is or if you’re watching Nick Mattiello read something off of a teleprompter or whatever. Its similar; it’s like a bell that rings down and it kind of never really goes away even if you can’t hear it anymore. That grit’s always in the work in Providence, I think.
MF: I think so, too. Yeah, it is authentic. So hopefully everyone sticks around and we can make change together. Whatever it is, we’re here for the long haul.