Brothers Scott and Sean Murphy know how to bring people together.
For the past five years, the identical twins from Colonie have hosted Lishakill Jamfest with their older brother, Pat. The sixth annual festival is slated for Sept. 13 at the Polish Community Center in Albany. “When it started out, it was supposed to be a backyard jam,” Scott Murphy said. “We ended up getting 500 people so we had to change the venue, and then we got 3,000 people.”
Now, the twin brothers are hoping to bring people together around miniature hot dogs and the Grateful Dead.
Their new Scotia Commons restaurant, the Grateful Dawg, emphasizes both.
“My brother’s a big Deadhead,” Scott Murphy, 43, said recently inside the restaurant, psychedelic posters on the walls that he painted mustard yellow and ketchup red. “I was at a bunch of shows with him. I barely remember them. And I’m the one who came up with the name.”
The Grateful Dawg opened July 9 in the former J. Watt’s Barista House at 127 Mohawk Ave., which closed May 1. The restaurant specializes in 4-inch hot dogs covered in meat sauce (called Dead sauce), mustard and onions, which cost $1. The restaurant will be open year-round.
Sean Murphy works full-time in contractor sales in Albany, so Scott manages the restaurant during the day and Sean helps in the evenings.
Scott Murphy said he approached his brother about opening the restaurant in October after the current state of the economy forced him to sell his towing company, Murphy & Sons Towing. He owned the company for three years and owned Spenards Moving & Auto Center in Schenectady for 10 years before that.
“We always talked about doing hot dogs,” he said. “I said, ‘Well? Why talk about it? Let’s do it. What’s the worst thing that can happen?’ And it’s been great. Every day we’re seeing more and more customers.”
Murphy said he’s planning a grand opening for Aug. 30 that will run all day and feature a hot dog-eating contest, face painting and live music.
He also wants to open another location on Union Street sometime next year and increase the business’ employees; other than the twins, the only employee is Sean Murphy’s son, also named Sean, who works in the kitchen part-time.
“We’re hoping someday we can franchise it,” Scott Murphy said. “I plan on having hundreds of employees someday.”
Murphy knows not everyone shares his brother’s love for the Dead, but he is counting on people coming for the hot dogs regardless of their musical taste. The restaurant also serves beef and veggie sliders, mini Philly steak sandwiches, tater tots and fries. After the grand opening, regular and footlong hot dogs will be added to the menu.
“Everybody loves hot dogs,” Murphy said. “I’d say 99 percent of the population loves hot dogs, and actually a lot of them have never heard about mini hot dogs.”
The two brothers had, though. For two decades, they have driven to Gus’s in Watervliet for the mini dogs, often bringing back as many as 50 to share with a friend. Murphy said mini hot dogs, which are sold at places like Hot Dog Charlie’s in Cohoes and Kelly’s Hot Dogs in Ballston Spa, are an upstate New York staple.
Mini hot dogs are longer than a cocktail weenie but small enough to be eaten in bulk. Murphy said a recent customer ordered 35.
Keith Enos, 48, of Colonie, a friend of Scott Murphy’s, ordered six and ate one before sitting down. He said he really liked the buns. At the Grateful Dawg, the dogs and the buns are from Helmbold’s Market in Troy.
“I like the fuller bun than normal,” he said. “I like to know I’m eating a hot dog with a bun.”