Eating at the Hot Dog Shoppe normally gives Mike Cayavec heartburn, but he hasn't had a dog in awhile, so the Canfield man, who runs a business in downtown Warren decided to have lunch there Thursday.
He arrived just a few minutes after GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.
''I was just coming here for lunch,'' Cayavec said. ''I didn't know he was going to be here, but I got to shake his hand, say I support him. He said, 'appreciate it' and moved on.''
Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, stopped at the West Market Street landmark - known far and wide for its tasty dogs with kraut and sauce and french fries smothered in cheese and sauce too - after a rally at Walsh University in North Canton.
The visit was Ryan's first in the Mahoning Valley, but second of the Mitt Romney campaign. Romney held a townhall-style meeting in Youngstown in March.
Ryan's caravan arrived shortly after noon and once inside, after ordering several hot dogs with various toppings - onions, mustard and sauerkraut - he immediately began working the crowded room. He autographed one young lady's baseball.
Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan works the dining room Thursday at the Hot Dog Shoppe. At the table on the left are, from left Wendy Bonar of Cortland, Heather Tinker of Warren and Todd Bonar of Howland. Photo by R. Michael Semple
Ryan shook hands with John Brown of Warren, who called Mitt Romney's running mate ''very personable, very laid back, very down to earth.''
Brown, who said he's been a Democrat for many years, said he's supporting the Romney-Ryan ticket this election because it's time for change.
''I don't see Democrats doing anything for this Valley,'' Brown said.
Luis Santiago and his daughter, Chelsea, of Cortland met at the restaurant on Luis Santiago's lunch break, arriving before Ryan and the mass of security and media.
''We were just eating our lunch and in he walks,'' said Santiago, who spoke with Ryan briefly about the Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Warren, where Santiago works.
Ryan's caravan blocked in Mike Myhal's vehicle in the parking lot, but the Canfield man, who owns TMI in Austintown, a maker of molded rubber products, wasn't bothered in the least that he wasn't able to leave until after Ryan finished.
''I support the ticket,'' Myhal said. ''I'm looking forward to it, I'm optimistic.''
Hot Dog Shoppe assistant manager Tim McAdams greeted Ryan, who said ''Hi, I'm Paul,'' as he walked through the door. Ryan, McAdams said, asked what are the best menu items before placing the order that also included an iced tea.
''It's not very often we get a presidential or vice presidential nominee in the area, so it was nice to have him stop here at the Hot Dog Shoppe,'' McAdams said.
A rally for Ryan to address the public was being planned at the restaurant, but those plans were scrapped Wednesday.
Ryan joined former Republican state Rep. Randy Law and former Trumbull County GOP chairman Craig Bonar at their table to eat. Also joining them was a reporter from Yahoo!, Chris Moody, invited by Ryan to join him because it was the reporter's birthday.
Also part of the birthday gift to the reporter, a chance to ask Ryan a question about his proposed Medicare cuts.
Ryan defended his proposal, saying he included the $716 million in cuts in his budget because President Barack Obama already had ''put those cuts in'' and ''we would never have done it in the first place.''
Bonar, a Mitt Romney delegate, said Ryan didn't have much time to eat, but Ryan was able to get down his two dogs and a bite of fries, and talk a bit of local politics.
Law, running for state representative again this year, said some of the discussion was about salaried retirees at Delphi and there fight to restore their pensions. Law said Ryan is supportive of the salaried workers and has tried to intervene with the U.S. Treasury Department on their behalf.
''Anytime somebody like that comes and I have the opportunity to talk about things in the area, I do,'' Law said.
Democrats, near the same time, held a news conference in Warren to combat Ryan's stop.
Elaine Price of Warren, a nation co-chairperson of the Obama re-election campaign, said in front of the Trumbull County Courthouse that if Romney's advice on allowing Detroit to go bankrupt and stopping the auto bailouts was taken, this area would have suffered immensely.
''How do you account for all the Valley jobs we would've lost if Mitt Romney would've had his way?'' Price asked.
Price also said that Romney has vowed to be tough on unfair trade practices, especially against China, yet Ryan has investments in several Chinese companies and as a congressman, Ryan voted against an investigation in complaints of Chinese currency manipulation.
She said their ideas on taxes and Medicare also would negatively affect middle class workers in the area.
''We can't afford the Romney-Ryan plan in the Valley,'' Price said.
Reporter Joe Gorman contributed to this story.