Frankie Bunz brings gourmet hot dogs, and craft pop to Squirrel Hill

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By Kristy Locklin

Frankie Bunz is gonna make you a hot dog you can’t refuse.

The Squirrel Hill eatery, which opened June 3, brings gourmet dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, fresh-cut fries and specialty soda pop to the neighborhood.

“You look at Murray Avenue and it’s all pizza shops and Chinese food … really good pizza shops and Chinese food, but every now and then you need something different,” says Eric Feldman, who co-owns the spot with David Faigen.

Customers can build their own dog from a variety of links, buns and toppings or try a new spin on the American classic.

The Hyman Roth is an all-beef kosher frank topped with homemade Israeli salad and The Sonny Special is slathered in Swiss cheese and ketchup. If you prefer “Goodfellas” over “The Godfather,” try The Henry Hill with sauerkraut and stone-ground, Irish-style mustard.

Vegetarians can chow down on The Grateful Dog and folks will get a kick out of the Mr. Miyagi Doggie, a tempura-battered, deep-fried wiener served with crispy Asian slaw and dragon sauce.

Any dog can be added to a grilled cheese sandwich, a combination the owners call a Puppy Melt.

Feldman and Faigen, both Allderdice High School graduates, spent decades building other businesses.

When he was 12 years old, Feldman started folding boxes at Mineo’s Pizza House. He went on to operate mom-and-pop pizza parlors and restaurant chains such as Fuddruckers and Bruegger’s Bagels. He also spent time as a paramedic (hot dogs are the No. 1 choking hazard among children 3 and under, so he’s more than happy to dice them up for the kiddies).

Faigen owned a White Oak beer distributor and founded the Pittsburgh Seltzer Company.

The friends joined forces to give back to the community they love. Growing up, they used to visit the storefront when it was deli. Now that they own the place, they’re bringing in local high school students to add art to the white walls.

Frankie Bunz doesn’t just embrace the Corleones; it welcomes all families.

While most hot dog shops serve craft beers, Bunz is all about the non-alcoholic brews. There are more than 15 different kinds of birch and root beers from around the country, including suds from Natrona Bottling Company.

“I buy from local vendors as much as possible,” Felman says. “Everything is fresh. There are no freezers in this restaurant and there never will be.”

Inside, there’s a small seating area and a stand-up counter. The open kitchen – which boasts two grills: one for traditional dogs and the other for veggie options and grilled cheese – allows the cooks to converse with customers.

Both Feldman and Faigen are canine lovers and they welcome patrons to bring their pups. Water bowls and hot-dog shaped biscuits are offered to furry friends.

In this dog-eat-dog world, a little kindness goes a long way.

2108 Murray Ave.

www.frankiebunz.com