Veteran-owned NYC-style hot dog business sees success in Midland

Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 6:43 PM CST
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MIDLAND, Texas (KOSA) - Veteran Mike Schlatman’s beloved New York-style hot dogs and his daily appearances have made him a feature of the Midland American Legion Post 19.

It isn’t just a business, it’s also about community. Legion members say Schlatman has become family.

“Stef, did you want mustard on that?” Schlatman yells from his hot dog cart at the legion. “You want an All-American, Todd?”

He’s calling out to customers who turned into friends.

Schlatman had an unexpected arrival in Midland, but it’s the birthplace of his culinary success.

It all started with a breakdown. In 2020, Schlatman was traveling in a retrofitted live-in van and interviewing hockey teams for his podcast. The Odessa Jackalopes were next on his list.

“Long story short, it turns out the whole engine was blown out,” Schlatman said. “And two weeks after that, it was early February 2020, and two weeks after that, COVID came. So, here I am.”

The Brooklyn-Native says Midland grew on him. He then ran a keto bakery for two years, then began serving bagels from a cart.

If you couldn’t tell, Schlatman knows how to adapt.

“April came and the weather started getting really hot. The bagels were just getting really hard and dry from the humidity fast,” Schlatman said. “So the cart that I had did come with a steam table, so I figured, OK, no one else here does New York-style hot dogs. So my New York bagels are so successful, let’s try hot dogs.”

Within months, he won a reader’s choice award from the Midland Reporter Telegram and praise on social media.

“I do an authentic New York hot dog using what they call in the push carts is dirty water,” Schlatman said. “It has that nickname because it looks like the Hudson River, because it’s a beef broth, with some chili powder and tomato paste and some seasoning.”

That’s how he steams his Brooklyn-based, quarter-pound Nathan’s hot dogs.

You can count on no-bean chili dogs and beer-steeped sauerkraut on most days. He describes them as “just like if you’re on the Coney Island boardwalk at Nathan’s.”

He also likes to mix it up and serve elote dogs, frito pies, pizza and more.  Legion members say you can also bet on his positivity and kindness.

“He has his own unique way of doing things and his personality can just take over a room. In a good way. In a very positive way,” said Stefani Miller, the canteen manager at the post.

Most days, Schlatman’s cart sells out.

“It’s good food. You know, I’m not a big hot dog fan. I never have been, really,” said post Adjutant Todd Wantz. “But I love his hot dogs.”

It’s more than a good business relationship.

“You know, a lot of my customers have become friends,” Schlatman said. “So I mean, it’s the passion of doing that and creating good food for them and making more friends.”

Mikey Dogs serves at the American Legion at 501 Veterans Airpark Lane from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday. Schlatman also hosts Brooklyn Brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring his New York-style bagels and other related fare. He then serves hot dogs on Sunday evenings from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Schlatman’s cart floats around the legion grounds, so if you can’t find him, just walk in and ask for Mikey.