Le Dog Consolidates
Born in Hungary, Van Dyck-Dobos fled with his family after the Soviet invasion in 1956. They landed in Ann Arbor, where his father did photography for the U-M and eventually opened his own studio at the corner of Division and William. Jules graduated from MSU's hotel and restaurant school, worked in high-end restaurants, and was managing a big one in Chicago when he came home for a visit in the summer of 1979. Walking around the block from his father's studio, he recalls, he came across the vacant Clark's Caramel Corn Castle and asked his sister, "What's this?"
By then "sick and tired of working eighty-hour weeks" in fine dining, he decided on the spot to rent the building and open a hot dog stand. In the early years, he backed up his top-quality dogs with some extraordinary specials, including roast duck and "pheasant under Styrofoam," before settling on a roster of 428 soups that he rotates throughout the year.
He added the Main Street location seventeen years ago, when developer Ed Shaffran turned the old Kline's department store into a retail mini-mall. Van Dyck-Dobos's wife, Ika, ran the new takeout window on Main, while he stayed on E. Liberty. But he says he's been on month-to-month tenancy there for years, so when the chance came to expand on Main--and secure Le Dog's future--he grabbed it. (He doesn't know what will become of the castle.)