Rockland chef elevates hot dogs at The Excellent Dog grand opening

Published: Jun. 30, 2023 at 9:31 PM EDT
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ROCKLAND, Maine (WABI) - The Excellent Dog held its grand opening Friday, offering Rockland residents a new way to enjoy an iconic summer staple: hot dogs!

The topping combinations are seemingly limitless, with classic favorites like chili and cheese, along with eccentric accents like kimchi and fried eggs. They also include a variety of local beers, soda, and brunch drinks.

“You know the yin and yang symbol? That’s beer and hot dogs.”

Chef and owner Kerry Altiero co-owned Rockland’s Cafe Miranda with his former partner for almost three decades. Unfortunately, in June last year, he made the decision to close.

“We opened this up on a wing and a prayer. And then all of the sudden, it was 30 years and I couldn’t get enough staff, everybody was afraid during the pandemic,” Altiero explains. “And I was losing money by operating not at a full schedule and I thought, ‘Okay, enough.’”

Now, Altiero is ready to reclaim his spot as an adventurous place to grab a bite. But that doesn’t come without some stipulations.

“Yeah, they’re $10 hot dogs, but they’re big. Really. It’s like a giant sandwich with interesting toppings on it.” The price also comes from Altiero’s commitment to his employees. “But in reality, I’m trying to make this even more livable. Reasonable hours, four-day work week, good pay, and I’m trying to break the mold that we’ve lived in for all those years that everyone complains about. because if you don’t do something different, it’s gonna stay the same!”

Through Cafe Miranda, Altiero has made himself a staple personality in Rockland. With the community already behind him, they are ready to support the new stand.

Former Cafe Miranda regulars Kathy Bennett and Thom Perkins were the first customers to visit The Excellent Dog when it opened.

“Kerry was one of the very first indicators of a change of Rockland 30 years ago. And the fact that he was able to build Cafe Miranda to the reputation it has, it’s just a very special place,” comments Perkins.

“You’d hate to see him stop! He’s unstoppable!”

“Kerry is a force of nature”

Ultimately, The Excellent Dog goes beyond food service.

Described by Altiero, “We make memories... Oh, and food too!”