A restaurant specializing in the art of hot dogs will be shutting its doors after three and a half years of business.
Mad Dogs Eatery, located at 309 N. Henry St., closed Sunday evening, according to owner Steve Nelson.
Nelson stated personal issues as the reason for closing. He said his autistic son’s nursing will be cut off soon in a letter he received a little over a month ago.
Nelson’s son was born with one lung, one kidney and an esophagus that was not attached, he said. He is fed by a feeding tube and requires a lot of maintenance, he said.
“I had to make the decision to take care of him,” he said. “Having a kid with disabilities teaches you to roll with the punches and be happy with what you get.”
Nelson called Mad Dogs Eatery “the hot dog connection” in Madison. The menu ranges from the classic Chicago Dog to a hot dog called Road Kill.
Nelson said there is a hot dog called the clown dog, consisting of two jumbo hot dogs in a 12 inch hoagie bun. Customers wear a clown wig and get their picture taken to put on a wall if they finish it.
“It’s a nice, chill hangout,” he said.
Nelson said a lot of the items on the menu are his own recipes.
As for the future, Nelson said a couple of people have asked about buying the shop, but he has not received any decent offers yet. He said he would not rule out reopening in the future.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said he has eaten there before and is sad to hear the news of its closing. He sympathizes with the difficult personal circumstances the owner’s family is going through.
Although three and a half years may not seem like a lot, Verveer said it was almost like an eternity compared to the previous series of restaurants in the space.
“Many have not lasted more than three and a half years because the location is a tough location, largely because the space is so small,” he said.
He said there are not a lot of downtown restaurants that specialize in what Mad Dogs has. Time will tell if that type of food is restored in the future, he added.
Speaking broadly, Verveer said retail space downtown has been doing quite well in terms of low level of vacancies, compared to only a couple years ago.
“Anecdotally, there have been fewer vacancies in the State Street area,” he said. “Despite the location’s small size, generally making for a more affordable rent, I am optimistic that a new retailer will occupy that space.”