Six years ago, Erica Stimaker left her job as a stewardess to carve out a new path—one with covered in macaroni cheese, grill marks and tin foil.
“I like to joke that the only serving I did before opening Yeti Dogs was crackers and peanuts on a plane,” laughed the effervescent Stimaker. “The hot dog stand just sort of fell in my lap.”
Named after an inside joke involving a giant yeti costume, scare tactics and her significant other Dominic Ahumada, Yeti Dogs has become and Anchorage street corner staple. The shiny metallic beacon of lunchtime serves everything from traditional all-beef dogs to something a little more exotic.
“We are so lucky in Alaska because we have such great locally made sausages! But I also don’t want my customers to get bored, so I often introduce short runs of specialty sausages. I do stuff like alligator, rattlesnakes, elk and yak sausages. Alligator is one of the one’s people go crazy for. I think it’s because people don’t wake up in the morning thinking, ‘I’m going to eat alligator today’ and by the end of the day they’ve done it,” laughed Stimaker
But alligator and rattlesnake sausages are not the craziest thing to come out of Yeti Dogs.
“I once did a rattlesnake and pheasant sausage which blew my mind because like, which one came first? The pheasants eat the snakes, so is it like a turducken,” said Stimaker.
Despite the ever-changing specialty menu, Stimaker insists that her menu has stayed pretty steady over the years. And her menu isn’t the only thing that has resisted change. Stimaker hesitantly retired her food truck’s grill after six years. However, she couldn’t totally put it out to pasture, so she still keeps it around for spare parts.
Yeti Dog’s innovative and sometimes scary sausage offerings have catapulted it to a year-round business. Stimaker found that there was simply too much demand for her to close-up shop after the summer tourist season, so she found a niche with corporate events, outdoor events and everything in between.
“I figured people still eat in the winter, so I invested in some really good winter boots and I kept on going. Sometimes if it’s too cold I’ll pack it up, but people are usually pretty understanding about that,” said Stimaker.
When asked whether or not she’d ever settle down and open a brick-and-mortar location, Stimaker was undecided.
“Right now, I'm really content with the way things are going but we are pushing like crazy. So, we might have to expand at some point,” Stimaker said with a smile.