Beach Dogs full of true local flavor
A "beer and an idea" launched Chris Quinton's Beach Dogs food cart business just three years ago, and since then, the Marco Islander has been refining the American classic with his own signature.
Quinton is a regular at local markets (indeed including the Wednesday one at Veterans Community Park) and his cheerful banter with customers is a big part of the sales equation.
The dogs themselves are the top-of-the line Nathan's brand, and the toppings and sauces are what he believes make them unique in their own right.
Think locally blended sauces like Gator Hammock Gator sauce, which Quinton says has a kick that could launch a rocket ship, and also Stan & Haney's Baba-Koo-Saw (say that quickly, and you'll get the drift), which Quinton describes as simply "excellent."
Toppings like onion and olives, for example, come directly from vendors.
"That way it stays local, and we know it's fresh," Quinton said.
Visitor Mark Wolanin had a little fun – mixed with serious appreciation – when asked how he was enjoying the popular "belly buster," a quarter pounder.
"It's a lot meatier … less fat, and it has just the right amount of substance and weight on the tongue," Wolanin said.
Referring to his "beer and an idea" statement, Quinton said at the time he noticed the absences of similar carts on Marco, and just a few in Naples. So he bought a cart from a St. Petersburg manufacturer, modified it with a flat-top grill (to quicken up multiple orders and also char buns, if required), and took the plunge.
One of his specialties is beer-braised brats (warmed "low and slow" in beer and then grilled), while his self-devised Frito pie with Fritos, chili, cheese and chips also has plenty of market takers.
Quinton is full of praise for the Marco market, describing it as possibly the busiest on the Southwest Florida circuit.
The farmers market runs through April from 7:30 a.m. each Wednesday.