Nikki Tisue has been a professional hot dog, brat, and Polish sausage artist since she was 14 years old in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her latest dining extravaganza, All American Franks, opened on E. Bridge St. this month.
Nikki Tisue has been a professional hot dog, brat, and Polish sausage artist since she was 14 years old.
That’s when the Tulsa, Oklahoma native began working at a local food stand named Coney I’Lander.
Five years later, Nikki met future husband Doug Tisue, of Redwood Falls, who was in Oklahoma working as an arial photographer.
Doug and Nikki were married in 1983, and moved back to Redwood when they got the opportunity. Nikki was familiar with Redwood Falls long before that, though.
“My grandparents lived in Mankato, so we would meet with them in Redwood Falls,” Nikki said. “We’d eat lunch at the cafe downtown, and had our picture taken on the army tank by Lake Redwood.
“We’d used to see boys riding their bikes by the lake — maybe one of them was my future husband!”
Since moving to Minnesota, Nikki has managed food services for a variety of firms, including three public schools and Southwest Minnesota State University.
“I started looking for a bricks-and-mortar restaurant space a year ago,” Nikki said.
In June, several days after deal on a building in town fell through, Nikki and Doug were driving through Delano and saw a for-sale food truck sitting in a lot.
“I thought maybe I could go little and work by myself for a bit,” said Nikki. “My banker was very receptive to my starting in a food truck.”
The truck’s price was right, and it turns out there’s a man in Plymouth who fixes up food trucks as a profession.
More problems solved.
“The whole inside of the truck was gutted, and we picked out all new equipment,” Nikki said.
When the truck was close to being ready, Nikki needed a name for her business.
“I wanted a patriotic theme since I”m big into history, and the American constitution,” she said. “That’s why my Philly sandwich is called ‘The Liberty Bell’. The biggest hot dog is called ‘The Second Amendment’ because it’s fully loaded.”
As for location, Nikki’s brother-in-law Dave Tisue had a spot on one of the busiest streets in town.
“It was Dave’s idea to just let my business sit here, which is just awesome for a brother-in-law,” Nikki laughed. “We didn’t need any special permits since I was invited onto private property.”
“I use Vienna Beef hot dogs, the champagne of hot dogs. They’re wonderful, and out of Chicago,” Nikki said.
For customers who prefer brats or Polish sausages, those are available also.
Nikki also insists that all hot dogs are grilled.
“Real Chicago-style hot dogs are boiled, but I say you can boil hot dogs in your own house,” she said.
“The coney is from Coney Island, but I’ve built on it by adding coleslaw. I call it the hillbilly, since only hillbillies add coleslaw to hot dogs,” she laughed.
When she’s not in the truck, Nikki is making many of All American Franks’ other dishes herself.
“The chili, coleslaw, queso, and lemonade are all homemade,” she said. “All our fries are made to order, so they’re always fresh.”
All American Franks opened Aug. 23, and Nikki plans to stay open until Halloween, with a reopening next March 1.
“In winter we’ll close for the season and store the van,” she said. “Our problem right now is there’s no way at present to keep our water from freezing.”
Nikki has already gotten requests from customers to move her truck to different locations.
“I’ll be at Belview Old SOD Day, and at the Redwood Fall Festival and grape stomp,” she said. “I was to late this year, but next year I’ll hit all the big area city celebrations.”
Now that she’s been open for two weeks, what’s been the best part of operating All American Franks?
“The customers have been making it a fun job,” Nikki said.
And what part could she do without?
“Well, a couple days ago it got up to 116 degrees in the truck,” she laughed.