On Route 2 in Lincoln, there’s a nondescript little restaurant tucked between a gas station and a retail plaza. It’s called Crazy Dog, and if the caricature of a hot dog in a bun walking an actual dog doesn’t seem like the kind of place you’d be apt to drop the kickstand at, think again.
Inside, the hard-working crew consists of a guy who takes the orders, a guy who cooks the food, a guy who rings you up, a guy who brings the food out, and a guy who cleans the place. The thing is, they’re all the same guy.
Alan Linscott opened Crazy Dog a little over two years ago, and he’s the guy doing it all.
“I’m a one-man band,” Linscott said.
But don’t worry: He can handle the biggest motorcycle convoy that stops in, and he’s no stranger to preparing lunch for the likes of us.
“I’ve seen quite a few bikers,” he said. “Last summer they were in here [a lot].”
Linscott spent years in southern and central Maine running “a few steakhouses and pizza places.” He recently moved to the Lincoln area to care for his 93-year-old mother, who suffers from dementia. And since you can’t take the restaurant out of the restaurateur, Crazy Dog was born.
The first lesson I learned was not to ever order a chili dog to go. Where the local Burger King dribbles a sad, tiny amount of chili on its dogs, Linscott smothers his with loads of beef and beans; prepare to grab a fork. The same goes for the sauerkraut dog, which is piled almost ridiculously high with kraut. Of course, there aren’t a lot of to-go orders when we’re on our motorcycles, so there’s that.
But don’t let the hot-dog theme fool you, because about half of Linscott’s menu is homemade fare. One online reviewer raved about the place but docked him one star because she thought his menu was not extensive enough. Linscott laughs that off, saying that most people have the opposite opinion.
“They think it’s just hot dogs, and then they see the meatloaf and they see the chicken pot pie and the chop suey and the seafood and say, ‘Wow, we didn’t know you had all this,’” he said.
The baked beans are worth writing an entire article about. And although I haven’t tried the homemade American chop suey, the elderly couple who ordered it during my second visit didn’t stop raving about it. Another popular dish is his meatloaf, which he cooks and slices in advance, then wraps each slice in bacon before putting it in the oven for hungry customers. And his homemade cole slaw definitely makes the grade.
Linscott is even expanding the homemade offerings, adding fresh-cut chicken tenders and lobster rolls. For the latter, Linscott promises that this won’t be the kind of half-witted lobster rolls some places try to push on Mainers—no piles of lettuce to make it look bigger, no excessive mayo, no fake lobster filler.
“Just [6 ounces] of lobster and a tiny bit of mayonnaise, which is the way to do it,” he said.
Linscott’s focus on food quality began with his restaurant experience and continued when he ran a business called Huckleberrys, where he made homemade barbecue sauce. That business eventually overwhelmed him.
“It got to the point where it was too much for one person,” he said. “I was doing 150 to 200 cases a week during the summer months. I was in Hannaford and AG of New England, plus stops I had of my own, plus invoicing. At my old age, it was just a little bit too much.”
For Linscott, it’s all about preparing great food and seeing happy customers. For a former urban restaurateur, running Crazy Dog for the last two years in rural Maine has showed him that it doesn’t much matter where you go in the world.
“Once you get through the surface, people are the same,” he said. “There are rural habits and cultures that are different from urban areas, but my customers are just wonderful people.”
The personal connections make the difference, he says. He recalled an elderly woman coming in and being overjoyed that she could get a coffee milkshake. It turned out the woman had worked at the J.J. Newberry store in Lincoln years back.
“She said, ‘It’s just as good as the one I used to make in Newberry’s,’” he recalled. “That took me by surprise when she said that.”
And that customer finding joy in something as simple as a coffee milkshake makes it all worth it to Linscott.
“It’s just kind of a joy,” he said. “I know that sounds silly, but these women come in, 80 or 90 years old … and I make them laugh. That part of it’s kind of fun.”
So if your road trip brings you through Lincoln—or if you’re looking for an excuse to ride that way—Crazy Dog is well worth a layover. Bring your bikes, bring your riding buddies, and bring an empty stomach and a big appetite. I recommend starting with hot dogs and then loading up the saddlebags with some of those legendary baked beans or ever-popular chop suey.
Crazy Dog is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Just remember: Alan Linscott does it all. He’s OK with you showing up with two dozen people on motorcycles, but make sure you give the guy time to get everyone served.