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How Steve Ewing turned his passion for music into a successful restaurant

Ewing talked about his roots in music, where the business idea for Steve's Hot Dogs came from and how his food cart has grown into a vital part of the community
Credit: SLBJ
Steve Ewing of Steve's Hot Dogs.

ST. LOUIS — Steve Ewing, owner of Steve’s Hot Dogs and lead singer of local rock band The Urge, had decided to close his restaurant in Tower Grove after a few financially tough years. But on closing day, the hot dog shop had a massive turnout.

So Ewing and his partners pivoted to reconfigure their business plan. And a few months later, the restaurant had to adjust for COVID-19. In the midst of all this, Steve's Hot Dogs launched its Feed the People program to help community members in need and made the decision to leave its space at 3457 Magnolia Ave. for a bigger location at 3154 S. Grand Blvd. The new location of Steve's is set to open in late August.

In our discussion with Ewing, he tells us about his roots in music, where the business idea for Steve's Hot Dogs came from and how his modest food cart has grown into a vital part of the St. Louis community.

You’re the lead singer for The Urge. What made you interested in music? In my house, music was pretty much everything. We had stacks of records. My mom and I would sing on Sundays. When I was in fourth grade, I went to go see The Gap Band and Zapp and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and I knew then that I wanted to be in a band.

How did you come to be part of The Urge? In my junior year of high school, there were these cats that had a band called The Urge, and it was four dudes from my high school. They would practice in a bedroom at our old drummer’s house, which was on the way home from school so I would hear them practicing. I went and did an audition [for lead singer] and then I was in the band immediately. We started playing shows, and got a record deal seven or eight years later.

The original Steve’s Hot Dogs was a street food cart, an idea that grew out of your involvement in the music scene. Can you talk about that? I can remember the very moment I had the idea. We’d played a bar in St. Charles on Main Street, and I remember we had a really full house. We get done playing, and it's time for everybody to leave, and there is no food anywhere. I mean I was hungry. Everybody's hungry. But there's nobody selling food out here on the street. I didn't see any reason why we wouldn't be successful selling food late night. So, I went ahead and bought the hot dog cart.

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