How to Start a Hot Dog Cart Business

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Image of a drawing people at a hot dog stands

A Quick Overview of The Hot Dog Cart Business

  • What you’ll want to know about starting a hot dog cart business with a set of complete resources
Hot Dog Cart Business Overview:

Hot dogs are a popular type of American food.  They are easy to cook and you can buy them in a number of places. Hot dog stands are also popular items because they can operate from nearly anywhere. People can buy a hot dog when they are left without enough time to get a meal.

If you decide that you want to start this type of business, your first step will be to find a high traffic area in your area. If there is a lot of traffic around lunch, dinner, or other meal times, you may be able to set up a stand right in the middle of this location.

Keep in mind you can test different areas and see which one works best for you, that’s one benefit of being a mobile operation.

Hot dogs are a quick, easy lunch, an all-American institution, and a great way to make a living.

Skill Set:
  • Good people skills
  • A special recipe for hot dogs and condiments is helpful
  • Past vendor experience very helpful
  • Work under pressure – When you have a line of people in a hurry to get their order
  • List of Common Business Skills
Employee and Job Consideration During The Start-Up Phase or In The Future:
Approximate Daily Hours Needed:

You can set your own hours. You will want to be smart about this, however. Set up your stand during the hours when the most people will be hungry. This means lunchtime, early evening, and maybe even late at night as the bars are letting out.

Equipment, Supplies, & Services During Start-up OR In The Future:
  • You will need a hot dog cart along with enough hot dogs, carts, buns, condiments, and napkins to make everyone happy. You should also invest in selling drinks, whether they be cans of soda or bottles of water.
  • Investing in other forms of food can be helpful as well. Hot dogs have a reputation for being unhealthy, and by having more health friendly options available, like whole wheat buns and maybe even vegetarian hot dogs, you will be able to bring in more customers.
  • A pickup to transport your cart
  • Essential office Equipment
Monthly Expenses and Operating Costs To Consider:

See our list of common business expenses

Licenses:

You need whatever local permits are required to operate hot dog vending carts in your local area. This can range from special permits to health board inspections to ensure that your equipment is working properly.

See Our Page on Licenses and Permits

Approximate Minimum Startup Cost:

Bare essential – New Hot dog stand carts start new at around $1800 for the low-end model and go up in price. You may find a good used one. Once you have your cart, you could be able to start for under $500, which includes supplies and enough food to work for at least a few days.

Tips and Considerations:
  • Currently, new hot dog vending carts are retailing in the range of $1,800 to $8,000 each, depending on the features. However, as a method to reduce startup costs, consider purchasing a secondhand one, they’re typically half the cost of a new one.
  • Choosing the best location to start your hot dog stand will also be crucial in the success of your business. Make sure to choose locations where there are a number of your prospective clients. Some of the best places to operate are near schools and similar public places. It’s also a good idea to take your truck to sports events, conferences, beaches, and parks where you will find huge crowds.
Pros and Cons:

The Pros:

  • Very profitable, because the average money made is nearly 70 cents on every dollar.
  • You can work for as many hours a day as you want, although if you plan to be open in a high-traffic area during a lunch rush, you stand to make quite a deal of money. You set your own hours and you make a great profit for a little amount of work.
  • This is a mobile operation, easy to relocate when a market declines
The Cons:
  • Your business depends on the weather
  • You are working with a lot of cash in an unprotected area, which can be hazardous

Resources:

Equipment and Supplies:

All American Hot Dog

World’s Best Hot Dog Carts

Willy Dogs

Information Sites:

Carts of Cash – Make BIG MONEY with Hot Dog Carts

Hot Dog Profits