Eagle County residents: Eat Swiss Hot Dogs for life | VailDaily.com

Eagle County residents: Eat Swiss Hot Dogs for life

Caramie Schnell
Eagle County CO, Colorado
HL Swiss hot dog KA 03-10-09

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” There’s comfort in the predictable. Even though Swiss Hot Dog Company has been around for more than 30 years ” first in its Lionshead spot for years and now in Traer Creek Plaza near Wal-Mart in Avon ” not much has changed. The menu is quite simple, with two main offerings, both owner Ernst Larese’s creation. There’s the “regular”: two pork-and-veal dogs nestled in a chewy French roll and topped with imported Austrian curry powder, onion, parsley, sprouts and brown mustard. For the homemade chicken noodle soup, Ernst chops up more than 30 homemade vegetables and throws them into the pot. He doles out the simmering concoction with love, topping each helping with cilantro and a slice of lime ” the perfect elixir for what ails you.

The dogs are quite popular with tourists as well as locals, which is why Ernst created a side business years ago where he ships boxes of the hot dogs around the country.

“He’s really let that fall by the wayside and people have been calling even my cell phone number asking for him, asking for the hot dogs,” said Simone, Ernst’s daughter and fellow owner.

Now that Ernst is nearly 80 and considering retiring, Simone is thinking about the future of Swiss Hot Dog, or SHD for short.

“I’m taking it over and we’re trying to make it into a chain,” she said. “I have some interest in L.A. and Vegas. I’m trying to make it younger and marketable … I want to create a brand. I’m going to hopefully have my own chain, that’s the idea anyway ” I might be 50 by the time it happens.”

For the past year she’s been working on a Web site for the company with the idea of running the side business wholly online, but she hasn’t gotten very far, she said. She did, however, create a Facebook page for Swiss Hot Dog.

“There’s really a cult following for Swiss Hot Dog,” Simone said. “People were fighting (on the Facebook postings) about who is the biggest fan.”

Fed up with how long the site is taking her to create, she sent out a Facebook message last week:

“Hi everyone! As you may know, I’ve been working on the Web site for a LOOONG time ” but let’s face it, I suck. I NEED help! So, I’m running a little contest; if you or anyone you know can come up with a web site you’ll win a FREE HOT DOG EVERYDAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! Seriously! If you aren’t into the dawgs, I’m going to be including kick-ass salads and chocolate fondue (in the nearest future) …”

A free meal a day for the rest of your life? The concept struck a chord with people and the response has been overwhelming, she said.

“People have been writing back to me like crazy. I got about 50 e-mails,” Simone said.

She has a few potential designers “who definitely know what they’re doing,” she said, and she’s now trying to get back to everyone who’s written to her.

The barter system, which has always thrived in Vail, might be even more popular now because of the recent economic downturn. But even so, this isn’t the first time people have offered their services in exchange for a good meal.

“I’ve had people do things all the time for hot dogs, even paint the place,” she said.

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.

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