Maddie’s Dogs food cart goes the extra mile

WARE – Maddie’s Dogs is a traveling hot dog cart that owners Thomas James and Dianna Rizzo launched in 2020, with their home in Ware. They traveled all over western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut. They have hosted block parties, baseball games, birthday parties, anniversaries, jamborees, and private parties for companies. Last year, when the Western Kentucky tornado hit, Maddie’s Dogs held a fundraiser for victims in Kentucky.

Rizzo said, “What we were going to do was put our hot dog cart on a trailer behind a trailer and fill it with drinks and food. We were just going down to feed the victims and it exploded. It was the most rewarding and satisfying part. We love helping people.

She continued, “What makes Maddie’s Dogs unique is our passion, dedication and customer service. We have a customer base and know our customers by name.

James added: “You get your food there. I’m southern, she’s Italian, and we give people what they deserve: respect and good food. This is what we do.

In addition to their hot dogs, they make nachos and tacos on the go. For grinders, they make Kielbasa, chorizo, mild or hot sausages, and meatballs. They have a variety of fries, soda, Gatorade and water. They have their Maddie Meal which caters to kids. The Maddie meal is a hot dog with any choice of toppings, fries of their choice, drink of their choice and the kids get a surprise with the meal. Many adults even get the Maddie Meal, Rizzo revealed.

For over 20 years James was an 18 wheeler truck driver and stopped at many food trucks. When Rizzo met him seven years ago, he mentioned he wanted to do a food truck or food cart. “When COVID[-19] hit, Thomas said it was time,” Rizzo said. “I was hesitant, but we did it and we’re making it work.”

James and Rizzo purchased the cart in April 2020, but due to COVID-19 opened in August. While looking for a name for the business, they got a blue-heeled Husky mix dog named Madeline after Rizzo’s late mother’s middle name. The two call the dog Maddie for short, which is now the name of their cart.

This year James and Rizzo hosted a block party for the Old Mill Pond Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) in Palmer, a football jamboree for Burgess Primary School in Sturbridge and the Relay for Life Crafts Fair at Belchertown Common where they donated 10 percent of their profits to Relay For Life. In July, Maddie’s Dogs will host a private event for the Palmer Senior Center, Brimfield Flea Market and Three Rivers Farmers and Artisan Market.

In September they will be at a car show in Ware and a farm day in Stafford, CT. In addition, they will participate in a fundraiser in Monson in October.

James and Rizzo plan to be open through the winter and eventually year round. Their next step is to get a full size concession trailer so they can incorporate more food for their customers.

Rizzo said, “In the future when the money is good and the business is good, we want a concession trailer that pulls behind with a smoking porch out the back, which would involve putting a wood or a pellet smoker on the porch and smoking meat while we serve ribs, brisket, pork shoulder and chicken wings.

She continued, “Inside the truck would be sides that vary from baked macaroni and cheese to southern-style green beans or popcorn. The possibilities are endless when it comes to getting a dealership trailer.

Maddie’s Dogs home address is on Bank Street in Ware. Their opening hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, follow the company on Facebook where Rizzo posts its daily specials.