My Other Life: Brenda Skermont, restaurant owner

Brenda Skermont, nail tech. In her other life: restaurant owner.

The house specialty at Pug Dog’s Diner in Machesney Park , Ill., is the Pug Dog — a smoked, bacon-wrapped, grilled frank on a toasted bun with ham, onion threads, and mayo, topped with Italian cheese. “It’s truly unique,” says Brenda Skermont, who, together with her husband, purchased this small family restaurant five years ago.

“My husband always said that someday he wanted to open a ‘hot dog joint.’ When he was laid off from his job I told him there was nothing to lose and to go for it,” she recalls. “My husband is the primary worker (top dog) at Pug Dog’s, but I do a lot of the marketing, run for supplies, and sometimes become the chef or waitress when needed. We also serve homemade soups, which I make,” says Skermont, who, in addition to working at AbFab Salon and Spa in Rockford, Ill., is also an international master artist global educator for EZ Flow Nail Systems. Skermont came up with many of the diner’s menu items, which include the largest hot dog served daily, weighing in at 1-1/4 lbs.

The restaurant, which seats 36, is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “For 30 years it was a soft-serve ice cream joint called Top Cone. When we bought it we shifted the focus,” she says. “Since we raised pugs, we decided to name it Pug Dog’s Diner and to offer a large variety of hot dogs. So with the AKC list of breeds in hand, we tried to match our dogs and toppings to different breeds. For instance, a Black Lab is a charred dog and a German Sheppard has sauerkraut on it. A Litter of Pups is a basket of mini corn dogs.

“We have created a fun neighborhood place that is appealing to all ages,” says Skermont.

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