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Turning to Hot Dogs

Vendors say selling franks profitable

June 20, 2010
By JOEL DiTATA, The Leader-Herald

Many relish the thought of enjoying a hot dog during the summer. They can also top them with mustard and ketchup if they want to.

Not only does the area offer hot dog eateries year-round, but there are also hot dog vendors in prime positions for an outside meal.

Jake Perron of Frankly Jake's Hot Dogs owns and operates his own hot dog cart in the Charles Jenner Memorial park on East Main Street in Johnstown.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Joel DiTata
Jake Perron, owner of Frankly Jake’s Hot Dogs, adds “Michigan” meat sauce to a hot dog in the downtown park in Johnstown on Tuesday afternoon.

This is Perron's first year in business, and like many others, he was unemployed until he opened his business in March.

"I was unemployed since October and I figured I would give it a shot," Perron said.

All that is required to become a vendor in the city of Johnstown and Gloversville is to obtain a license from the clerk. Once the permit is obtained, there are only small rules that one must follow. Perron said he can set up wherever he likes in the city as long as it is not on sidewalks or on company property, unless he gets permission from the business.

"I'm my own boss," Perron said. "I get to interact with residents and get to know more about the area."

The Plattsburgh native has also brought something to the area that he said no one else has - the famous "Michigan" hot dog.

There are several different variations of the origin of the "Michigan," but it consists of a hot dog topped with a meaty sauce that's referred to as "Michigan Sauce."

One of the variations of the story is that the "Michigan" originated in Perron's hometown of Plattsburgh. Thus, Perron has mastered the recipe and claims to be the only hot dog eatery with the special sauce.

Perron said business has been good so far. He said it is relatively inexpensive to operate as a hot dog vendor. The most expensive part of becoming a hot dog vendor is actually getting the permit, he said. Making his $4 on two hot dogs, a bag of chips and a can of soda is profitable, he said.

Perron will be in the park Monday through Friday until September or October, and after that, he plans to sell his food at indoor events. He also does catering and private parties. His grill runs on a tank of propane.

Chris Puciato also owns his own hot dog vending business. His cart is set up on the lawn next to the ice cream stand Udderly Delicious on North Comrie Avenue in Johnstown. This is his second year in business.

"I just enjoy the people," Puciato said. "One of the best things about it is meeting new people."

Puciato, who has been involved with the restaurant business for 30 years and currently works at Friendly's, brings his chef experience to his mobile hot dog business. Not only does Puciato have hot dogs, he also offers nachos and cheese, sausage-and-pepper sandwiches, chips, soda and, new for this year, live lobster dinners on Friday and Saturdays.

Depending on how the $14 live Maine lobster dinner with macaroni or potato salad prevails, Puciato said it could become a daily meal for customers.

Weather permitting, Puciato sets up five picnic tables with umbrellas until Udderly Delicious closes.

Puciato said the hot dog vending business is "very" profitable.

When the winter rolls in and the vendors aren't easy to spot, people can continue to get hot dogs at local establishments such as the Hot Dog Hut in Johnstown or Dean's Dogs or Tegeo's in Gloversville, among other establishments.

The Hot Dog Hut, which is owned and operated by Lisa and Todd Richard, has been serving hot dogs for 11 years.

Lisa Richard said the couple started cooking hot dogs at local fairs and garage sales, and the business slowly ballooned into the opening of the restaurant.

Richard said her favorite part about the store is the customers.

"The people are great, between lawyers and everyone else, it's good humor," Richard said.



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