A “rainy day” project Gene Marques had put on the back burner for years is now a booming hot dog stand selling flame-broiled vegan hot dogs.
Marques opened Muki Dogs at the end of August, the weekend after the second Covid-19 shutdown in Honolulu. Within five minutes, he had sold his first two dogs to a local policeman and mailman. The stand, named in homage of the eclectic, relaxed Kaimukī town he’s a part of, now brings out vegans and meat-lovers alike from across the island of Oʻahu.
Originally from Guam, Marques’ parents had a hot dog stand “that put him through private school.” His dad named the stand Maite Dogs, a nod to the village in Guam where their business was based and quite popular. Growing up in the family business, Marques knew it inside and out. So, when he came across a hot dog stand for sale on Craigslist four years ago, he bought it, then tucked it away for a rainy day.
He retired from the Air Force in January 2020 with several business ventures up his sleeve. However, when the pandemic and economic crisis hit, hot dogs suddenly made perfect sense.
Marques was set on vegan from the start and had the goal of making healthy, responsible and delicious food available to the community. After researching local and national trends, he also liked that there was room for growth in the plant-based market.
As a one-man-show, he decided to keep it simple and offer only vegan, with one style of Muki Dog.
What makes his dogs so good, he said, is that he sources buns from a local bakery and gives the Beyond Sausage original bratwursts (made from pea and fava bean protein) the gourmet treatment with his grill. Every dog is made to order and served in a compostable container. Ask for “the Works,” topped off with mustard, ketchup, relish, Sriracha mayo and Spanish crumble — a homemade vegan-cheese alternative inspired by Marques’ time in Malaga, Spain.
Recently, he added a second flavor called The Miso-Muki, which is a fusion of Asian flavors with miso, scallion and furikake. And Marques has more ideas up his sleeve, so stay tuned.
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