Gourmet hot dog restaurant, music venue opens on Short Vine

In his years touring around the world as a Hip Hop DJ, Brad "Mr. Dibbs" Forste would always grab a hot dog after the show.

"Literally all around the world, whether it was [the U.S], Japan, Australia, Germany - that was the one thing on tour that I clinched on, finding the hot dog," Forste said.

He eventually used that international experience to hone his own recipes for specialty hot dogs and, along with his wife and brother, opened Flop Johnson's last Tuesday in a vacant restaurant space above Daniel's Bar on Short Vine Street in Clifton.

Forste, wife Kristin Rose and brother Chris Alsip hope to make the space, which had been empty for years, into a restaurant and music venue where Emcee's, DJ's and bands can perform into the wee hours while patrons consume hot dog creations and drinks purchased from friend and collaborator Will Webb at Daniel's Bar downstairs. They hope it will be part of a re-emergence of the once vibrant scene on Short Vine where a cross section of Cincinnati's counter cultures would eat, drink and listen to live music, they said.

Last Saturday night DJ Raw Milk played early hip hop hits and funk obscurities while a steady crowd - including tattooed youth, UC athletes and a leopard-print clad woman in her sixties - ate hot dogs and drank soda, PBR and cocktails. Many were friends of the owners, but some just happened in after reading their sign on the street that read: "come look at our wieners."

Forste and company have designed sixteen specialty hot dogs, but initially will offer four or five at a time. All dogs are served with french fries or tater tots. Rose's homemade vegan chili, an optional addition free of charge, has sold out every night since they opened. Other toppings include pizza sauce, cole slaw, dill pickle spears, chopped onions, pepperoni and bacon. The beef dogs cost $4.50 and the Raw Dog, a vegan option, $5.00.

Flop Johnson's will be open Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. until 1:30 a.m., with the potential for lunch hours once UC is back in session. They will also hold official after parties for concerts at Bogart's, just a block away, and other venues in town.

Alsip, a former member of a local hardcore band, said the restaurant will be a melting pot of sub-cultures, with a spectrum of musical genres playing there and downstairs at Daniel's.

But it's not just about the music and diversity.

Alsip, who along with his brother is a freemason, pointed to a freemason tattoo on his forearm to make the point.

"Freemasonry is supposed to make you a better man, better people," he said. "We're trying to venture forward and make better hotdogs."

Writer: Henry Sweets
Photography by Scott Beseler
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.