Po Do: When Ketchup and Mustard Just Won’t Do


It’s hard to believe that Po Dog is still in its infancy. In the last five years, Owner Laura Olson has built the Po Dog brand from the bun up, garnished with a heaping helping of media blitz, and made it the Seattle icon it is today. Now, with five businesses under her belt and a team of 47 employees, you would think Laura was ready to take a break, rest her feet, eat a hot dog. No way, she says, hinting that there could be a new business idea marinating at her Pterodactyl {Group} headquarters. We’ll just have to wait and see. To tide us over, Laura took a minute to discuss everything from Po Dog’s illustrious beginnings to sourcing great ingredients.

How did you get into the food business?
I’ve worked in the food and beverage industry since I was 15 years old. I put myself through college while working full time as a server. Upon graduation, I got a “big girl” job (a 9 to 5-er) at a recruiting firm. Although I loved the company and people I worked for, I didn’t have a passion for the job itself and found myself missing the face-to-face interaction I had with people on a daily basis while working in the food industry. I quit my job one day and decided to pursue my passion for food, people and hot dogs.

Where did the inspiration for Po Dog come from?
I have traveled the world and a lot of my culinary inspiration comes from the places I’ve been and the foods I’ve eaten along the way. When I find a meal I really fall in love with, I always come back and try to recreate it hot dog-style at Po Dog. There was the hamburger-with-crazy-toppings movement going on for a while, and I figured, why not do the same with the tube meat that I love?

What’s your favorite hot dog of all time?
I created my own hot dog that I call The Green Machine. It has cream cheese, fresh cut lettuce, dill pickles, sport peppers, scallions and celery salt. It’s fresh and delicious!

How did you decide to team up with Macrina for your Po Dog menu?
I knew how important it was to have a really great bun. I wanted something that wasn’t too heavy since most of my dogs are piled high with toppings, and I also wanted something unique. I couldn’t find any local bakeries that would work with me on creating a bun that would fit the size of my hot dog until I met with Rebecca [Early, Wholesale Sales Manager]. It was the perfect marriage. I wanted to stay as local as possible with all main ingredients, and the bun was one thing I wouldn’t budge on when it came to a local partnership. Macrina made a brioche hot dog bun that was the perfect custom fit for Po Dog. We feel pretty special for that.

What are some of the highlights from the last five years at Po Dog?
Wow, it’s been such an amazing five years. We were featured in one of the biggest selling issues of People Magazine in 2012. Hoda Kotb from the Today show took a bite of our peanut butter and banana hot dog on live T.V.; we filmed for the Canadian show, Get Stuffed, in 2013; and most recently we filmed for the Travel Channel’s Food Paradise that will air early in 2015… We hosted a couple of Seahawks players for toy drives in the past couple of years, and we were also part of the Tillamook Cheese Tour where we gave away over 300 free Mac n’ Cheese Dogs in less than an hour! It’s been a great ride.

Where does your passion come from?
I love what I do. It’s not a job for me; it’s my life. I think it’s extremely difficult to be successful in business without being passionate about what you’re doing. I was working 16-plus hours a day for the first three months nonstop after I opened my doors. I remember there were times I would come home and get into bed exhausted as all heck and not be able to fall asleep because my legs were throbbing in pain from the craziness of the days. Never once during those long, hard days did I ever think I wanted to quit or stop doing it. I love my customers and the brand that I’ve created.

If we peeked into your fridge, what would we find?
King Estate Pinot Gris, about 15 different kinds of hot sauce, and Red Bull. I cook more when we have houseguests otherwise; it’s pretty sparse in my fridge.

Fueled by frankfurters and hungry for more, there’s no stopping the Queen of Gourmet Hot Dogs. We can’t wait to see how she’ll top the last five years.

Meet Our Family: Rebecca Early

Rebecca Early

What do Po Dog, Matt’s in the Market, and Stumptown Coffee Roasters have in common? These local favorites – in addition to hundreds more – use our breads and pastries to complement their own delicious menu items.

“We have over 480 wholesale customers, and it’s growing every month,” says our Wholesale Sales Manager Rebecca Early. “The secret of success is growing with your demand, and we’re doing an amazing job meeting that.”

Rebecca came to Macrina nine years ago when we were comprised of just two cafés, one in Belltown and the other in Queen Anne. At the time, Rebecca was working toward a degree that would place her in the world of radio and television, unaware that the future had something else in store.

“My sister lives down the street from our McGraw location with her three boys, and I would go over and nanny and walk the baby by Macrina every day. I had to get a part-time job to afford my quiche and latte every day.”

It wasn’t long before that part-time barista job at McGraw flourished into a manager position, with Rebecca overseeing both cafés and 35 employees. Years later, as we looked for opportunities to partner with other local companies, Rebecca’s love for our customers and products made her a natural choice to head up our wholesale department.

“We make close to 500 different products for wholesale, our wholesale customer service is parallel to no other, bar none, and our offerings make us a one-stop shop,” she says with a huge smile. “You can’t get the quality of pastries and the variety of bread anywhere else in the city.”

With her natural charm and finesse, Rebecca keeps our current wholesale partners wholly satisfied and welcomes new businesses with open arms.

“It really helps that this is such a great product and people really love Macrina. I couldn’t be more proud of who I’m representing. I feel like it’s what I was supposed to be doing all along.”