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Hot Dog Cart Friendly States

by · 36 comments

Sometimes it’s fun to open a can of worms. I hope this is one of those times ;-)

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Hey Steve,

I plan to relocate somewhere warmer in the winter season and sling dogs and return in spring to the Chicago area. Maybe you or my fellow slingers could give me advice on cart friendly states or not so friendly states ? I have had Arizona, Nevada or New Mexico in mind, but any other ideas would be welcomed.

It doesn’t have to be hot just cool or comfortable. Come ‘on slingers chime in with any ideas !!!

Bruce of ” Bruces Hot Dog Cartel “

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There are two things you should never ask a hot dog vendor unless you know them really well.

1. Is this a good business to get into?
2. How easy is it to pass the health inspection here?

The reason I say that is because you are just begging to be deluged with misinformation at best and outright lies at the worst.

Some vendors will see you as potential competition and want to discourage you with horror stories. Some have a bad relationship with their health inspector which makes it “unfriendly” no matter what state they are in. And some are out there illegally and don’t have a clue what the code requires.

There is sooooo much misinformation out there. 99 times out of 100 getting your hot dog biz to pass the county mounties is way easier than you’ve been lead to believe.

No matter what state you are considering doing business in my advice is always the same. Meet with the local health inspector in person (or at least speak with them on the phone) to find out what you need to do to comply with local food codes. Second, get a printed copy of the code and read it cover to cover.

I have found that in the states with the most strict (sometimes ridiculous) health codes, many inspectors realize that the code makes some impossible demands and they will be willing to “work with you” to get your cart passed. As my own health inspector said, “Here’s my rule. Don’t get anyone sick.”

There are a few states that are “tougher” than others but all 50 states allow food carts. You just have to jump through more hoops in some than in others.

North Carolina requires NSF certification and so does Minnesota. Having said that, I do have customers in both states that are slinging dogs from non-NSF carts. It’s really up to your personal inspector whether they want to enforce every single sentence of the food code.

California requires on board refrigeration and four sinks with bigger water tanks. I have a lot of E-Z Built customers who got their cart passed in California with the addition of those components. No need to fear the CALCODE.

Georgia code requires an “enclosed” cart but that is easily complied with by building a “fish tank” style sneeze guard over the serving area. Just make a box out of plexiglass with doors to access the serving area.

As far as business permits go, that is really an individual city thing, not a state thing. Talk to your local business licensing department at city hall and they can give you the scoop.

OK, now I’m going to pry the top off of this can of worms. I wouldn’t do this but for the fact that we have the smartest and most courteous slingers on the web. You folks are pros. I know I can trust you dear readers.

Even so, take everything with a grain of salt and remember to talk to your local inspector to get the straight story. It will probably be so much easier than you were lead to believe.

-Steve

P.S. If you are thinking about getting into the hog dog biz, now is a great time to get started. We just put all of our training materials into our Hot Dog Profits Premium membership. Check it out here.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

carlo secondino

Hi Steve which are the top ten states that are easy to establish a hot dog vendors business withhout all the tough regulations
Thanks
CArlo

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Steve

Any of them really. Like I said in the post, it’s simply a matter of speaking directly with your personal inspector. Yes, some states have more rules than others but that’s not really an issue.

If you have to equip your cart with more doo-dads to satisfy your local HD, that is a one time cost. Average it over the life of your business and it becomes insignificant.

Live where you’ll be happiest!

Bill Stocks

Utah County in the great state of Utah doesn’t allow carts. They say its because part of the county is rural and they think there may be floaties in the air, but I don’t see that as an issue.
Bill Stocks

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Michael

What are floaties?

Lenzie/on the roll dog

Arizona, Nevada or New Mexico in mind, Go where your heart take you.!!!! Free & Powerful.!!!

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Dang Good Dogs

Durham, NC is a great place for Food Trucks, Food Trailers and Hot Dog Carts! As a vendor, we feel supported and that the regulations are just and fair.

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Steve

That’s Dang Good to hear. Thanks!

J

Durham…hmmmmmmmm know anything about person or orange county?

jim martin

Here in florida it is relatively easy to get the permits to sell hot dogs from the state. Most inspectors are easy to deal with, The real problem is the cities themselves as some cities think of us as unsafe criminals and do not allow us or make it impossiable through the heavy handed use of cops or code enforcement. Don’t give up 1 When you go in to get permits know the code as well as they do.

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Steve

“When you go in to get permits know the code as well as they do.”
Good advice and not hard to do. Most of the city workers dont’ know the code well at all. Help them out. They do appreciate it when someone else does their job for them so they don’t have to look it up themselves. I’m not being sarcastic – this is a true thing. Use it to build a great relationship and it will pay off for years.

Cecil

Alabama. I travel a lot and I deliver to hospitals MRI equipment. I see carts everywhere. In Birmingham I saw three in the medical district both Friday and Monday

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Hot Dog Mike

Easy is never worth it!

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Steve

Right on. That reminds me of another great saying, “Cheap is always more expensive.”
Thanks Hot Dog Mike!

Carrie

I live in Arizona and it’s a little harder to get carts here except if you get a private location like a Home Depot. Which seems to be hard to get. I think we used to have a lot of venders like taco carts and such and Maricopa County started cracking down on the food carts :( But who says its always easy right!

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Raguso

Sad to hear but it figures. Maricopa County and the world’s toughest sheriff Joe Where are your papers Arpaio. Tough is one thing: like eke out a living in the desert Southwest. Manmade obstacles like making it difficult for honest vendors is another thing altogether. Would be lucrative to be in the position of a lot of these people who make a living by making life difficult for others.

Ron

I had my cart there for two years and I thought it was pretty easy. Competition is tough as there are a ton of carts but getting the permits and licenses were pretty easy. If you decide to open up a cart in Maricopa County (Phoenix) area, shoot me an email and I’ll tell you everything you need to know.

beau dorrough

I believe most of it falls on the health inspector you get and what type of relationship you have with them. I have a great relationship with my HD inspector, however i have ran into other inspectors in other counties while doing events and they did not want to approve my cart, i would just call my inspector on his cell and have him speak with them, show them my inspection and continue on. He has been a great friend, he also has other people who are interested in doing hot dogs come and see me with questions.

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Frank's Texas Wieners

I’m a Veteran in Orange County, New York. The County will issue any honorably discharged Vet a Life Time Vendor’s License for Free, you just need a copy of your
DD-214. I would suggest that any Vet moving to any state to check with the County. You may also need to check with the town you want to set up in.

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dave

I would try austin tx they have everything there as far as night life goes. It is the capitol of texas. In the winter time it should be around 50 or 60 degrees. You will find just about any type of food on hot dog carts trailers and trucks. From what i understand you can sell hotdogs until about 2 or 3 am peaple get very hungry when they get done dancing and drinking. health department phone number is a pain to find but i have it for you 512 978 0300 and call the chamber of commerce and ask for taylor gregory he was helpful to me but the other lady that works there was not so helpful i think he still works there it was the spring time when i spoke to him. GOOD LUCK!

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The Hot Dog Spot

Austin is a great food town. Progressive, inovative and the town motto says it all, “keep Austin wierd.” In my neck of the woods, Frisco (just north of DFW) dealing with the HD has been pretty easy. My business thrived doing private events, a place where there is much more leway in what is required. My niche of gourmet dogs kept me busy any weekend I wanted, including the cooler times in the fall (lots of tailgating). Find a small town that is dog frieindly and I think you could thrive IF, IF you get involved in the community. Best of luck!

Randy H.

States vary from county to county. Where I’m at in Indiana they have waved the commisary thing but the next county west of me they won’t and unfortunately that county has a lot more going for it than where I’m at. I’m trying to do business at home with less road time and travel expense. Maybe when I have more time this winter I can get deeper into the new ops training and get some help on marketing and location ideas.

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Brianbubba

randy what county are you in. I am in marion county and just startin to gather my stuff and get my act together.

Randy H.

I’m in Morgan county, just southwest in Mooresville. Sorry about how long it took to for me to reply, I just found your question.

Big Mommas Hot Dog House

San Antonio, Tx has been Hit with the food truck / cart bug. If you can stand the drivers, you’ll do we’ll. I can’t keep up and have to turn alot of request down. I only do it on Weekends now. S.A. is little Mexico. The Sonoran dog or chili dog with the hottest peppers you can find will bring you $1000. or more a weekend ! HD is laid back. Just get your commissary card punched and you won’t have problems ! I don’t know about Houston or Dallas but Austin has 6th street $5.00 dogs; look it up and good luck.

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George Huntoon

Houston TX is pretty good for food vendors. Downtown Houston does not allow Hot Dog Carts in a traditional sense, but does allow for them with some tight tight guidelines. So i wouldnt say it is impossible. But outside of Downtown Houston and within City Limits is fine and not hard to do. Food Trucks are really gaining in popularity, and of course Taco Trucks have been around forever. The taco trucks are actually a good thing. The health inspectors have their hands full chasing millions of taco trucks all day that they dont even have a minute to worry about a hot dog cart. And outside the city limits but within Harris County is even easier and pretty laid back. It all comes down to finding a good location. I really believe there are plenty of good locations but I think the reason you dont see more Hot Dog Carts is because most people convince themselves they cant do it, or its too hard to get a permit, or some other excuse. At the end of the day…..Just Do It!!

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Jack

Thank you for your comments. I am interested in vending hot dogs in Houston. Do you know anyone I could network with? Do you know who might want to lease a cart?

Best, jack

HotDog Daddy

I’ve been working on getting my cart out into the Charleston SC area.
The health dept in SC, wants cart owners to now be a commissary owner also so, that says to me that they are making it harder to get out and do your own thing, when it comes to dog slinging. Plus like Ga, they want the cart to be enclosed in plexiglass.
I’m feeling discouraged right now but, never beaten! where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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Robin/Lakeside lunch

CT is not known to be a business friendly state, but it can be just as easy here as anywhere. I was very surprised at how welcomed I was at the town beach. For a vendor it’s prime real estate and nearly the only spot in town. Health codes vary from town to town, county to county and even from cart to cart here. One town requires 4 sinks and an available bathroom within walking distance from the cart. My town required only the two sinks because I have a push cart. Put a truck around it and everything has to be NSF with 4 sinks. Some towns don’t allow any drive through at all and that means no carts and no drive thru windows. If you come to CT, you just have to check at the town hall first and if they’re all right with it, check HD.

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jimmy rodgers

memphis, tennessee is a great spot for slingers. there are just a few of us here and we really could use a few more. especially in the elvis/graceland area. we passed our last health inspection with a top 100 score. hell, how are you going to have a dirty dog unless you drop it? the name of our biz is the hot dog cart and rhe health dept knows us by name. chi-town is only 10 hrs away. come on down!!!

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Corey Blake

What about clark county in las vegas nv?

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Bruce

I have thought about Clark County in Vegas, but I know they already have a cart downtown. Corey are you located in Vegas and where in Clack county would you locate ?

Corey Blake

I am near the blvd mall. but clark county is wide and larde. have dog cart, will travel.
here you have to have the location before you get the license. plus being a non profit group we can setup places others cant.
I think I am going to get a pop up tent too. and selling dogs under it I will call it my pup tent.
downtown I see mostly food trucks thou. there is a person on fremont street experience.

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Steve

Pup tent. I dig it!

Brandon

I live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and I have my business license to sell hot dogs. That was by far the easiest and most stress-free part. The permits are nearly IMPOSSIBLE to get here. The only permit they offer is in a town next to me and it is a peddlers permit – you can only stand still for 10 minutes, then you must move 200 feet and not return to the same spot for another 24 hours.

The county permit allows you to go to the parks but you must be sponsored by someone and I’ve been turned down time and again. I am stuck and South Florida is not the place to open a cart. Anybody know of any other cities in Florida that are easier on the restrictions?? Because this is getting under my skin. I just want to start making money already.

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Steve

Don’t give up – there is always a way!

Try private property vending if getting a spot on public property is too difficult. Here’s a strategy.

Partner with an existing business that would like to have you in front of their store, cart lot, etc, bringing customers to their business. If you can’t get permits in your own business name, the existing business should have no problem getting a permit to set up a cart on their own property.

I hope this helps!

Steve

Anyone?

Reply

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