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Mudville: June 16, 2021 10:22 pm PDT
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Matt’s Red Hots

“It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man.” – Benjamin Franklin

Not everyone is excited to see #thefoodguy. I can accept this after doing 30+ episodes of “Behind the Dish” since we started a few months back. People are busy and we are living in a world where restaurant people are struggling to survive.

Covid is killing the food and beverage industry and at the end of the day BTD is focused on bringing attention to the amazing people running their small, local hot dog stands. I said it on day one, “I’m just here for the hotdogs.”

I am always excited to see you.

I know and I’m here for it. So, let’s talk about Matt’s Red Hots in Fort Myers and why this visit was especially fun. Initially, I was nervous. Matt isn’t the best texter and we have been trying to hook up with him for a couple of weeks. He’s a Buffalo guy who serves my favorite dogs, Sahlen’s, from upstate New York. We touched base a couple days before I made the drive. I expected to knock out a new episode, make a new friend and spend a couple hours driving home. It was a slow start….

Traffic?

I wish. As soon as I walked in and asked for Matt, I could tell he wasn’t expecting me. It’s not the first time I’ve surprised someone I was confident I had plans with to meet and eat. Matt is a big dude. Huge. He looked down at me over the counter and checked his phone… he never saw my last text on Friday and he looked busy, but we’ll get to that.

Matt's Red Hots in Fort Myers, FL

He brushed me aside and I waited outside at a picnic table while he did what he had to do. I got the impression he wasn’t excited to see me and I started to wonder if I would be spending the next two hours driving home hungry and without a column for Monday.

Maybe it was your face?

It was NOT my face. It was a call out and a busy morning and a guy who is trying to live out his dream in a world where everything is way more difficult than it needs to be. Matt gets this and as soon as he had a few minutes to sit down with me, I realized this week was going to be great.

Let me say this – Matt is all of us in the restaurant industry. Hard working, dedicated, good to people and serious about food. An ex-hockey player with a family who stays loyal to his Buffalo roots while embracing the community he now calls home. He was awesome, accommodating and you can tell his people saw him in the same light. They don’t make guys like this anymore; They’re a rare breed.

Long story short, we talked for what felt like hours. Family, Covid, hot dogs, sports…. I came in surprised and left surprised as I read this guy wrong at the door. I now have a new friend and this friend serves amazing hot dogs. I’ll be back as soon as the fans are allowed into Spring Training games, too. Not only because the food was amazing, but because I want to see Matt, check in on his amazing staff and grab a perfectly grilled hot dog and hand battered onion ring stack. Want to know about the food? You know the rules…. You’re going to have to watch.

Matt’s Red Hots: 18911 S. Tamiami Trail #24 Fort Myers, FL 33908

Rating: An “Oscar Wiener” Sahlens hotdogs out of Buffalo, NY – An amazing meat stick.

Major League Teams: None

Minor League Teams: Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (Single A for the Minnesota Twins)

Other Baseball: Spring Training home to the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox

Father, husband, runner, and food guy. Baseball traveler, stadium food connoisseur, and podcast fill-in. Just here for the hot dogs.

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