The Hot Dog Vending Cart,
A Great Way To Start

Owning a Hot Dog vending cart and getting into the hot dog/concession business may be simple, but it isn't easy.

So You're Interested In The Hot Dog Vending  Business?

Owning a Hot Dog vending cart and getting into the hot dog/concession business may be simple, but it isn't easy. There are a Lot of  Get-Rich-Quick books and infomercials that would have you believe that you can buy a hot dog cart, work 3 hours per day, and profit $100,000 per year or more. The reality is that it’s not that easy, and very few people, operating a cart for 3 hours per day are going to make that kind of money.

  You should also plan on spending a couple of hours each day on prep time and cleanup. Owning a Hot Dog vending business also requires physical labor such as carrying ice, coolers, generators, cases of food, soda, etc…

You will also need to take a good long look in the mirror to make sure you have the right personality to be a hot dog vendor. Most vendors are “characters”. They are outgoing, love people and enjoy working with the public. If you are overly shy, grumpy, or just plain mean. This is not the right business for you.  Now that you are grounded in reality, lets look at what it takes to be successful. 

The First Step In Owning A Hot Dog Vending Cart 

The first thing you MUST do is determine the legal constraints related to owning and operating your Hot Dog vending cart business. This means that you should contact your local Health department  and learn about the regulations concerning hot dog cart  operation in your area. In some areas of the country, food vending from a push cart is strictly prohibited. These requirements vary by city, county and state. 

Some of the most common items that are regulated are:

  • Types of foods, including toppings that can be used and sold. It is very common for push carts to be limited to hot dogs. They will also specify the manner in which food is handled, stored, thawed, cooked, and at what temperatures your food must be maintained.
  • Size, construction, materials used, and equipment used in the cart/trailer.
  • Commissary requirement-Most municipalities require that push cart/concession trailer operators operate from a commissary (licensed commercial kitchen). 
  • Number and type of hand washing/ware washing sinks to be installed on the cart/trailer.
  • Tobacco usage and other employee/operator hygiene policies.
  • Pre- approval inspection of the equipment.
  • Safe food handling course requirement for operators.
  • Fresh water and waste water holding capacity.

 Before investing any money in your Hot Dog vending cart business. Make certain that you are 100% clear on what the requirements are in your area. If you’re not clear about what is required, ask questions until you understand. Demand clarification on vague ordinances.

Depending on your area, you may also have to contact your city’s Zoning dept., Planning and Development dept., and Business License dept. You will also be required to apply for a business license to operate your cart/trailer.

 What  Is A Commissary?

 A commissary is a licensed and inspected commercial kitchen. which means, it’s not your house. Most areas will not allow you to operate a food service business from a residential dwelling. The general requirements are that you have to report to the commissary each day of operation to prepare any food that is to be served from the cart, and to wash your wares and your cart at the end of the day.The cost of the commissary can run from nothing to several hundred dollars per month depending on your arrangements. There is no universal specified usage fee

Hot Dog Vending Cart Business Plan

Successful businesses begin with solid business plans. Taking the time upfront will help  YOU become better acquainted with what all is involved and what you will need in order to be a successful Hot dog cart vendor. You do not Need an MBA to figure this out, just do your homework,

  • what cost will you incur on a monthly basis
  • what kind of Hot dogs are you going to sell
  • how will you cook them
  • what other if any products are you going to offer
  • what are the locations you think will be the most profitable
  • what is you local competition
  • what will you use as a commissary
  • any other factors that you think will impact your business

Again you do not need a 57 page business plan,but the bottom line is to put the necessary time into your business plan because it could be the difference between success and failure and help you avoid delays and wasted money.

Buying A Hot Dog Vending Cart

Be very careful when purchasing equipment. You want to be certain that your Health dept. will approve your cart BEFORE you purchase it.

  You can do an internet search using Google for “hot dog cart”  and will come up with several options. There is also quite a bit of used equipment sold on eBay, Craig’s List, and local classified across the country. Be very careful when purchasing equipment. You want to be certain that your Health dept. will approve your cart BEFORE you purchase it. Don't get stuck with a cart that you won’t be allowed to use.


When looking to purchase a Hot Dog vending cart we recommend that you do not buy until you have checked out BensCarts . they not only offer great carts but also training and a ton of resources

Now What?

Ok so now you have a cart, got your legal stuff taken care of and have a plan, now what? This is the point that you will want some tips, advice and words of wisdom to get the ball rolling.

Ok so now you have a cart, got your legal stuff taken care of and have a plan, now what? This is the point that you will want some tips, advice and words of wisdom to get the ball rolling. 

There are several different books and courses you can purchase on the day to day operations of your Hot Dog Business. You can also search online and get the information you need to get started. The best place to learn is to talk to other vendors, most of them will be happy to help you out, just respect their time and their business.

The Best way to learn is to hitch up the cart, go to your pre planned location, fire up the cart and sell some dogs. With each day you will learn what works for you, what is the best location and what it will take to be successful. The Best part is that no one can fire you, but you. If you keep at it, stay persistent and put in the work you will succeed!



If you are looking for a great book to take you step by step into starting a Hot Dog vending Cart Business I would suggest

"Hot dogs Saved my life"


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