By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
Steve Ewing is a familiar face in the local music scene. He first made a name for himself as the frontman for the popular rock/funk/ska/reggae/you name it act the Urge, a post he held from the '80s until the band's breakup in 2001. After spending some time in Los Angeles, Ewing moved back to St. Louis and reestablished himself as a fixture on the music scene. He now plays around 200 shows a year, most of them in town, with either his full band or as an acoustic duo with guitarist Adam Hansbrough. But despite already being ubiquitous in St. Louis, Ewing is enhancing his local celebrity with his latest venture: Steve's Hometown Hot Dogs & Sausages. Taking inspiration from a post-concert craving, Ewing started an outdoor hot-dog stand, located at East Grand Avenue and Second Street in north city. (They also do catering for large events and sold hot dogs at this year's Taste of St. Louis.) Steve's Hometown Hot Dogs just finished its second operating season; they stay open from March until the end of October each year. For the entire interview, head to http://tinyurl.com/ewinghotdogs.
Bob McMahon: Do you often get recognized, like, "Hey, it's that guy from the Urge"?
Steve Ewing: Yeah, totally. Especially down by Procter & Gamble, I'd say probably most of my customers know who I am. It helps with the business. We sell CDs out there, so it works out great.
Steve's Hometown Hot Dogs & Sausages' website is located at www.facebook.com/pages /Saint-Louis-MO/Steves-Hometown-Hot-Dogs-Sausages/148488365186199
Good 4 U's website can be found at: http://stlouis.missouri.org/citygov/health/good4you
Do you do anything else with your music to promote this business? Like at the end of the show do you say, "Come down and buy a hot dog from me!"
I'll tell you what, that's one of the reasons why I really wanted to do Taste of St. Louis this year, to really present it on a larger scale, like, "Hey, not only am I doing music, you guys know that, but I also have another business." And it worked out great. I was able to promote the business by doing a big event like that. In the future, I will be doing more events, more bigger events and working on possibly running the business at some regular installations, places like Home Depot, things like that. So we'll have multiple satellites, we'll have multiple food carts going at one time.
Have you ever considered writing a jingle for your cart?
[Laughs] You know, when we get into television advertising, I would imagine I'll have to. Without a doubt. The cool thing about St. Louis is there's so many great ways to market at the street level. The community is kind of small in a sense, and I've been a public figure in the community for so many years. So I don't have to go crazy with television advertising. I can really do a lot of word of mouth and things like that. For food, for what I'm doing it works out great that way. I get a lot of repeat customers.
One thing I should ask, because you sell hot dogs: Aren't you — or weren't you at one point — a vegetarian?
I still am, and we do veggie items. We have a vegetarian meatball sandwich, and we also have veggie burgers.
So you don't have any moral qualms with selling something you personally wouldn't eat?
No, I don't have any problems with that at all. That's not the reason I'm a vegetarian. I love meat, I just chose not to eat it because it got hard for me on the road, touring and stuff, and it was kind of easier for me to discipline myself that way and keep myself healthier while I was on tour. And I just kind of kept going with the lifestyle. But occasionally I'll still eat a few things here and there. I'm not a strict vegetarian.
— Bob McMahon
Calvin Cox: Before the show aired, you'd actually been advocating for healthy eating for years, right?
Murphy Lee: Definitely. I've been a vegetarian for twelve years now and a vegan for three.
What made you decide to change your lifestyle in that way?
It basically came from a lot of reading. Certain music led me to certain books, and the books led me to eating right, which is the key to a good life. If you don't put good gas in the tank, that thing's gonna putt-putt!