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Quarter dog’ prices rise at the Huddle

By SARA FELSENSTEIN | Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seventeen years ago Jim LaBella, general manager of the Huddle, came up with the concept of a limited-time, late-night special that would offer hot dogs to students for just 25 cents.

For a while, everything went smoothly: The “limited-time” special became a staple of Huddle Mart fast food, the Huddle made some money off the sales and Notre Dame had a new thing to boast as tradition.

“Then we started losing money,” LaBella said. “We’ve been losing money on every one that we’ve sold for the last five years, basically.”  

LaBella said last school year, the Huddle Mart served 29,798 hot dogs and lost eight cents on each one of them. That loss prompted the decision to raise the price to 33 cents per hot dog.

“We waited as long as we could,” he said. “Now, at three for 99 cents we’re just breaking even. We’re not making a cent on these.”

A departmental decision was made over the summer to raise the price, LaBella said. No other major price changes have been made to Huddle Mart products this year.

“We meet departmentally and look at our costs, and then determine what to change,” he said.

LaBella said he looks out to protect Notre Dame traditions just as much as students do.

That is why the price of the hot dogs had not changed since 1993, he said.

The Huddle never promoted the hot dogs as “quarter dogs,” LaBella said. They were simply meant to be a low-cost special offered late at night.  

“We never called them quarter dogs — that was a nickname that students gradually took on,” he said.  

LaBella does not expect the tradition to change or fade now that the hot dogs cost 33 cents.

“We haven’t seen any change in the number of students purchasing the hot dogs this year,” he said.

Regardless, students remain dissatisfied with the price raise. For sophomore Brian Phelan, the renaming of quarter dogs as “midnight dogs” just does not cut it.

“They should be called third dogs, because before they were a quarter of a dollar — now they’re a third of a dollar,” he said.

Freshman Beau Dolan agrees.

“It doesn’t really make sense,” he said. “It’s probably two-cent meat and a [half-cent] worth of bread.”

Junior Connor Paladino, said that for the eight-cent raise in price, the hot dogs should at least “taste better.”

LaBella said the Huddle works to provide value to the students wherever it can, but could not afford to lose more money on the hot dogs.

“Three hot dogs for 99 cents is still ridiculously low-priced,” LaBella said with a laugh. “It’s still a heck of deal.”