DOWNTOWN — There’s a new kind of hot dog cart making its way Downtown.
Loud Mouth Food Bikes offers gourmet hot dogs with locally sourced toppings, made fresh in the kitchen and then delivered Downtown by bike. The venture was started by husband-and-wife duo Grey and Lauren Ingram, of suburban Riverside, at the end of June.
“I just love hot dogs,” Grey Ingram said. “And Chicago is a hot dog town.”
These aren’t your run of the mill wieners from a cart, though: The hot dogs feature an array of indulgent flavors. August’s dog had an Italian sausage coated with tomato compote, fresh mozzarella cheese and Nduja salami pesto, and the cart has also served up a specialty mac-n-cheese dog. And the toppings for the sausages are locally sourced, like the tomato compote Loud Mouth gets from Michigan’s Tomato Bliss.
The hot dogs are “more just sausages on sandwiches,” Ingram said, joking, “We’re using the term ‘hot dog’ loosely.”
The Loud Mouth crew prepares the hot dogs at a shared kitchen and keeps them in special bags that keep the food warm. They then bike to wherever they are selling or delivering dogs that day.
The business is different from food trucks because the bikes can go almost anywhere and don’t face the parking restrictions trucks do, Ingram said.
The Ingrams got the idea for the hot dog bike two years ago. Grey Ingram worked in restaurants for 15 years before moving to advertising, so he’s familiar with messing around with flavors in the kitchen, he said.
The name of the business, Loud Mouth, comes from their shared history, too: Lauren Ingram’s mother affectionately calls Grey “the Mouth from the South” because he’s Southern and opinionated, he said, and they thought “Loud Mouth” would also pay tribute to the couple’s shared career history in advertising.
Ingram and his employee were delivering hot dogs to Downtown offices for several weeks, but they plan to start setting up their carts near key locations and selling hot dogs to passersby. They’re currently considering Downtown locations like 600 W. Chicago Ave., the Hancock Building and Merchandise Mart.
The company’s goal is to have three more employees by the end of the month and, eventually, to have 10 bikes operating Downtown, Ingram said.
“It’s a new venture; nobody has really tried anything like this in Chicago,” Ingram said. “So we’re just trying to figure … out daily what’s going to work best and how to grow the business.”