Durable Dogs

Doug’s Dogs owner Spencer Yardley waits on customers. 

No matter how long you’ve been in the Monadnock Region, chances are you’ve heard of Doug’s Dogs, the little white truck that’s been parked in the corner of a store parking lot on Route 101 in Marlborough for decades.

The business is now on its fourth owner, Spencer Yardley, who bought it from his father, Chuck, five years ago. Chuck’s father, Bill, once owned the property that the store and truck are on. Bill operated a mill there.

Before the Yardleys, there was owner Doug Croteau, who purchased the business in 1982. Before that, said Chuck, Larry Weisberg owned and operated the truck for the previous decade. It opened in 1972 at the spot it sits today.

On any given Saturday, the line that forms during the lunch rush at the truck can be 25 people deep — especially during warm weather. Yardley’s hard and fast rule for running his business he believes is the number one reason it continues to boom closing in on 50 years.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. 

He means that he hasn’t changed the simple menu one bit. He serves sausages, kielbasas, nachos, meatballs and the obvious big-seller, hot dogs.

“It’s short and sweet,” said Yardley. “People get a half-hour or hour lunch break and I need to put something out the window.”

His regular customer base includes truck and plow drivers, kids out of school and summer residents — some of whom visit Doug’s Dogs twice a day.

For decades, Doug’s Dogs sold its hot dogs for a dollar, and it stayed that way for the first three years that Chuck had the business. Rising costs led him to bump the cost to $1.25 per hot dog. 

Another 25-cent increase was made a bit later, and the price hit $1.75 when Spencer purchased the business, brought about in large measure by a consequential increase in propane costs. Today it’s $2, including a choice of 10 condiments — including chili, cheese, bacon and sauerkraut.

In addition to the truck’s tried-and-true menu and convenient, highly visible location, it’s the quality of the food that keeps ‘em coming back to Doug’s Dogs again and again to eat. 

Hot dogs and buns are steamed on-site — the only item that’s grilled are the Italian sausages, onions and peppers. Steaming the dog retains its juices. 

Hot dogs served from the truck are delivered each week to Yardley’s house, where he stores them in several freezers. He restocks his supplies at the truck each day.

Running a year-round, open six days a week business like Doug’s Dogs sometimes requires 80-hour work weeks for Yardley. He also credits his family for his continued success.

His daughter McKenzie (Yardley has three children) helps him at the truck on Fridays and Saturdays along with his nephew Liam. His wife, Carrie, and his dad and mom, Christy, help by shopping for supplies, making chili or chopping onions — whatever needs to get done.

He occasionally shuts the window to enjoy a little time off with family, but he admitted it’s tough to close down. His love of his craft and all the hard work that goes along with it is yet another reason for the longevity of Doug’s Dogs. 

“You have to be committed,” he said.