TNT Diner

Popular hot dog stand The Red Hot is exiting Cheney Stadium. What’s next for food at Rainiers games?

The Original Cookie truck operated on the party deck for the 2017 Rainiers season. It won’t be returning for the 2018 season.
The Original Cookie truck operated on the party deck for the 2017 Rainiers season. It won’t be returning for the 2018 season. Staff file, 2017

The slingers of Tacoma’s finest, gourmet hot dogs won’t return to Cheney Stadium for the 2018 Tacoma Rainiers baseball season.

Chris and Stu Miller, brothers and co-owners of the popular Sixth Avenue hot dog and beer emporium The Red Hot, announced the Cheney stand closure Wednesday with a Facebook post.

“It was a great time, but we are not returning to Cheney Stadium for the 2018 Season. It was amazing to be part of such an iconic piece of Tacoma history,” the post read. “Thanks to the Tacoma Rainiers organization, and thanks to everyone who came to see us. We’ll see you at our original Sixth Ave location.”

The Red Hot’s hot dog and craft beer stand at Cheney opened in 2015. It was the first restaurant diners encountered upon entering the stadium at the first base entrance.

The stand was known for its selection of gourmet dogs with unusual toppings, such as the Cracker Jack with a swipe of peanut butter, a crunchy slice of bacon and everybody’s favorite caramel popcorn sprinkled on top.

The stand also was the go-to spot in the stadium for South Sound-based craft beer and cider. The tap list was much loftier than what most ballparks offer.

By stadium standards, their hot dogs were well priced at $5.75 to $8.25 and were one of few options for vegans attending Rainiers games.

Customers queue up for dogs and brew at The Red Hot concession stand at Cheney Stadium. It's owned by the Miller brothers who operate the main gourmet dog restaurant in Tacoma's Sixth Avenue neighborhood. Drew Perine Staff file, 2016

Chris Miller described the decision to withdraw from Cheney as a reluctant choice.

“There are many, many factors, and this was not an easy or quick decision to make. To be able to have a stand in an iconic Tacoma venue like that was a dream come true,” Miller said. “We had been there three years, and it was still very surreal to walk the empty stadium when we went to work. We are both huge fans of the game, and every team Tacoma has been home to.”

Red Hot wurst sausage
A wurst sausage from The Red Hot at Cheney Stadium. Sue Kidd Staff file, 2017

Despite hot dogs being the quintessential baseball food, their concept, Miller noted, did not translate well for a quick-service concession stand.

Among the difficulties were “making every single item fresh to order, using a high-quality product instead of the stereotypical mechanically separated mushy hot dog, trying to keep our tavern vibe in a concession stand, things like that. We could’ve changed, but then it’s not The Red Hot anymore,” Miller added.

“Cutting corners was not in the cards for us. Sometimes people just want a dirt-cheap hotdog in 15 seconds, and that’s great, I do it all the time, but it’s just not what we do at The Red Hot.”

The brothers plan no changes to their original Sixth Avenue location. Business will continue as usual.

Deborah Tuggle, who operated the popular Original Cookie trailer at Cheney Stadium in the 2017 season also said this week she would not return to Cheney stadium for the 2018 season. She had served her fresh-baked cookies out of a converted Airstream trailer on the party deck.

The big question on the minds of hungry Rainiers fans: What’s next for dining at Cheney Stadium? Will a local restaurant take over The Red Hot space?

Brett Gleason, media and communications manager with the Rainiers, said the organization has “nothing to announce on what will replace The Red Hot at the moment, but we’ll be able to make an announcement soon.”

One thing will remain the same. Ivar’s, which oversees a handful of other food stands in the stadium, will return in 2018 to manage those concessions again, Gleason said.