Graffiti Summer may be over, but the Graffiti spirit — and flavor — will live on in downtown Modesto thanks to a new restaurant moving into Tenth Street Place.
Graffiti Dog is coming to fill the spot left by Loard’s Ice Cream & Sandwich Shop when it closed last month. The new eatery will specialize in, as the name implies, gourmet hot dogs and sandwiches.
First-time restauranteur Linda Abeldt is opening the place with her husband, former longtime Manteca Police spokesman Rex Osborn. Together they hope to serve valley hot dog lovers something special. They also want to honor the city’s “American Graffiti” history, based on native son George Lucas’ film about his youth cruising Modesto streets and the city’s long-term love affair with car culture.
“This is something that Modesto could use at this point because there is no gourmet hot dog shop here. And there was no question that we were going to go with a Graffiti theme,” Abeldt said. “There’s no way we could be in Modesto without a Graffiti theme, especially in this spot.”
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The spot in question is right on the corner, across from Ralston’s Goat and the Brenden Theatres and alongside the Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame. Loard’s, part of the the Bay Area ice cream chain, had been in the space for 15 years before that. The ice cream parlor had been a stalwart at Tenth Street Place, as one of the few tenants that moved in not long after its 2001 completion that was still in business. But this year the Loard’s local owners decided to retire, thus freeing up the space.
Abeldt is renovating the interior and starting from scratch. Everything has been taken out and a new commercial kitchen, counter and the rest are being installed. The Graffiti theme already shines through with its ’50s and ’60s inspired logo. The couple has also been collecting pictures from local car enthusiasts which will line the restaurant walls among other nostalgic imagery.
Once open, expect gourmet hot dogs made with local and premium ingredients. Abeldt said she is having her all-beef franks made by a Ripon business and her buns will come from a Stoctkon baker. They will also serve chicken dogs, veggie dogs and vegan dogs, as well as an assortment of salads, sausages and deli sandwiches.
“We want it to be a little more upscale than your normal ballpark fare,” she said. “We started with over 100 recipes and narrowed it down to about 20 different dogs.”
Graffiti Dog will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Abeldt hopes to attract diners from the scores of downtown employees, moviegoers and people coming downtown for events. They will also serve beer and wine on site to wash down those dogs.
The 1,800-square-foot space will seat 49 inside and another 10 outside on a patio. They plan to hire six to seven employees to staff the place, and you can expect to see Abeldt behind the counter as well. She previously owned a travel agency and ran the Manteca Convention and Visitors Bureau. She currently works part time as the marketing and events coordinator for the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley, which includes Manteca’s Bass Pro Shop.
Abeldt hopes to open by mid-August. For more information visit http://graffitidogs.net.
Elsewhere on the Business Beat:
Speaking of all things Graffiti, classic and performance car lovers have a new shop to call their own.
Shifty’s Speed Shop opened this year by Modesto native Art Mondragon and specializes in parts for domestic performance and vintage automobiles. The Johansen High grad grew up immersed in the valley’s car culture. He fondly remembers going to the Turlock Swap Meet with his father and now takes his two daughters, ages 10 and 6, with him to car events and into his shop.
Shifty’s opened to walk-in customers in late June just off McHenry Avenue next to the Sonic Drive-In. Before that he had been operating since last November by private appointment only.
Mondragon features the artwork by his friend and Oakdale High art teacher Matt McDonald on his shop walls. The paintings are for sale and McDonald also does custom pin-striping and other graphic design for cars.
“In Modesto, car culture is the lifestyle here,” he said. “For me this shop perfectly tailors to who I am and what I know.”