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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Bruce Dogs’ a hot commodity for students

    Matt Robles / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Bruce Gerowitz hot dog vendor celebrates his 16th year anniversary.
    Matt Robles / Arizona Daily Wildcat Bruce Gerowitz hot dog vendor celebrates his 16th year anniversary.

    Anybody can sell a hot dog once, but, like any vendor or small business owner will tell you, you have to be pretty good to keep customers coming back.

    Bruce Gerowitz knows this and has been serving hot dogs and Polish sausages at $2 and $3, respectively, to Tucsonans and UA students for close to two decades.

    Known affectionately as “”Bruce Dog,”” Gerowitz has repeated the same routine at least five nights a week for 16 years in front of the Brake Masters parking lot, 5810 E. Speedway Blvd., near the intersection of Speedway and Craycroft.

    Even with the job insecurity of hot dog stands and other small businesses like his, Gerowitz slings out dog after dog to Tucsonans and UA students from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. every Tuesday through Saturday.

    “”You don’t build it in a day,”” Gerowitz explained on a cold, rainy night with a handful of customers standing over hot dogs. “”It doesn’t make a difference if you’ve got a headache, if it’s cold or it’s raining. … I’ve been out here on crutches.””

    Mustard, ketchup, chili, sauerkraut, relish, onion – but Israeli salad and hummus? While the former may be typical condiments for hot dog lovers, the atypical hummus and salad is what Gerowitz and customers say drives the often inebriated late-night hot dog-loving crowd down Speedway Boulevard.

    Calling it an “”international affair,”” Gerowitz said customers young and old, from business owners to bikers and students to doctors, come from afar to taste his all-beef dogs, celebrities included.

    George Clooney has visited twice and both Charlie Sheen and the late folk singer John Denver have traveled to the Old Pueblo for Bruce’s famous hot dogs.

    “”George Clooney said it was the best hot dog he’s had in his life,”” Gerowitz said, adding his business has been mentioned twice on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

    For students like Eric Freed, a first-year accounting graduate student, relishing Polish sausages covered in spicy chili is what lures him down Speedway at least twice a month.

    That and Gerowitz’ personality and ability to schmooze with his customers, Freed said.

    “”For Bruce, and probably many vendors like him, it is all about being personable and getting the repeat customer,”” Freed said. “”He has been there for over 16 years and you can’t do that by just showing up. He actually cares about the people that come to the stand.””

    Gerowitz admits business was better when he was stationed next to TD’s Showclub, right behind the Brake Masters, because the bar patronage is what fueled his business – not to mention more safety and security.

    But with neighborhood groups complaining that vendors were bringing problems into residential areas, Gerowitz was forced to move to his current location after the Tucson City Council enacted restrictions on where vendors could operate.

    Former City Council Member Fred Ronstadt is a regular at “”Bruce Dogs”” and sympathizes with Gerowitz’s and other small-business owners’ daily struggles.

    Calling them the “”color and culture of our community,”” Ronstadt said 80 percent of businesses in Tucson are classified as small businesses.

    “”Bruce epitomizes the small-business man and their struggles,”” Ronstadt said. “”It’s important to support grassroots efforts.””

    Freed said he’s glad Gerowitz is concerned for students like himself with school and, more importantly, driving safely back home and not getting speeding tickets on Speedway.

    Carolyn Mortezai, a marketing junior, said she was introduced to “”Bruce Dogs”” before Thanksgiving last year and drives the 20 minutes to Gerowitz’s stand from Oro Valley for a late-night craving.

    “”I get everything but chili on it,”” she said.

    For UA customers, Gerowitz will always end the night with a conversation on how they are doing in school. He also instructs them not to go a mile over the 35 mph speed limit on Speedway Boulevard.

    “”If these kids get a ticket, they’re not going to come get my hot dogs,”” Gerowitz said.

    Gerowitz attributes his staying power – “”Bruce Dogs”” is the longest consecutively run independent cart business in Tucson, he says – to word of mouth and what he contends are the best hot dogs in the world.

    “”It’s still a milestone to be in a job when you’re outside and in the elements for 16 years,”” Gerowitz said. “”I’m pretty proud of such an accomplishment.””

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