Selling Hot Dogs Without A License – Say What?

Meet Steve Pruner – Outlaw Hot Dogs

Steve is a hot dog vendor in North Carolina and currently fighting a conviction for selling hot dogs without a license.  His story inspired me, as I hope it does you as well.  Of course I teach to follow the laws and codes so that you can make a living without adding to the headaches of being self employed.

North Carolina, like many states requires food vendors to have a commissary. A place for you to prepare, clean and dispose of your grey water.  Obtaining a commissary can be tough for some.  It requires most vendors to seek and find a commercial restaurant or business with a commercial kitchen.  I teach in my book; “hot dogs saved my life” – many ways to find a great commissary and often without paying a fee.  Sometimes this can be tough.

Essentially your asking someone to allow you to prep and clean in their commercial kitchen.  In my book I teach you how to present yourself so that it doesn’t sound so bad.  We all, well most of us are required to have a commissary.

Some vendors build their own but most find a solution with a local commercial kitchen.

Mr. Steve Pruner doesn’t agree with the rule and continued to sell hot dogs without a license.  Because he didn’t have a commissary, NC would not inspect his cart and give him a license.  Ben's Course Book

There is a large part of me that agrees and in the video you will hear from Steve as he explains how ridiculous the rule is.  I honestly wish him luck in his quest to overturn his conviction and possibly remove the code from the books.  Fortunately, Steve has a team of attorneys working to help him on his case.  Best of all they are Constitutional experts.
Many of the rules and codes are in place, not for public heath concerns, although touted as such; but instead to discourage vendors, to create government jobs and to make the general public feel safe.  I spoke with an inspector off the record recently and he stated that his experience going into the big chain restaurants and fast food franchises showed him that the smaller mom and pop style eateries and the street vendors and even our very own residential kitchens are much safer to eat from.  Mr. X told me that in North Carolina, during some events or charity events that vendors aren’t required anything.  As in they can go serve whatever they like, no commissary, no license and no guidelines.

Most food poising cases come from restaurants, not home kitchens, stated Mr. X (inspector).  Some foods, which you would not believe if I told you can be served from an open cart in North Carolina, without a commissary, without a license and without any oversight.
If the truth be know, I believe that many of these rules and codes are discriminatory, created solely to protect the restaurants, not the general public.  I could write a book on all I have learned working with vendors about the ridiculous and the Un-Constitutional laws and codes.  Thanks to organizations like Institute for Justice and the NC Institute for Constitutional Law, things are changing and for the better.  The rules and codes are being challenged and many are found to be un-constitutional.  Please join me in supporting these organizations who work to protect our rights.

Watch the videos and tell me what you think about Mr. Pruner’s case.   Hopefully we can have him on the Hot Dog Vendor Radio show soon.

Click here to see the videos.    Click the radio logo for show update.

Click for show info

Coming Soon:  A cart add on that can make you another $100 or so a day with little effort.  


Leave a Comment

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe March 18, 2012

Good luck Steve. Surely there is a fee for the license the state requires you to have, that is what the government agency is interested in. (picking your pocket).


Todd March 19, 2012

I am also having trouble finding a commissary, it’s a ridiculous law.


Byron March 19, 2012

Steve I hope it all works out for you. Trying to fight the the government is like telling then to stop spending $$$$ . But it can be done. All the best.


DGD March 19, 2012

I think the lawmakers need to work more with the cities/states to ensure there is a commissary that anyone can access in every county. I think It is very necessary to have a commissary (do you really want people cooking stuff out of their homes? possibly with pets? with refrigerators that can’t be checked for correct temps, yuck!). Luckily there are several commissaries in Durham, NC where Steve operates… and Steve if you are reading this, a new one is opening up with over 25 slots available! It’s on Angier Ave next to the Trosa Convenience Store. Check craigslist and there is an ad if you search for “commissary”! Durham is a very good county in NC to operate a mobile food business and very friendly to the mobile food industry. We’ve been slinging dogs here for almost a year and never had any issues. Good luck Steve!


Ben March 19, 2012

You make good points and it’s exactly what the state points out as well. But statistics show that more cases of food poisoning come from restaurants. Couldn’t we be given the option? Couldn’t we pay an annual inspection fee for the state to inspect our kitchen? I’m glad there are those who are opening commissaries but until there are enough that competition keeps pricing down, it’s not a viable option for everyone in the beginning.


Mike Cannon March 19, 2012

Aim High Steve!


CorkyBoo March 19, 2012

I saw the video and I agree with the guy…..100%
I to was forced to go into a contract with a stranger and have to leave my Money Making Property Somewhere else etc,etc,etc,
I believe in food safety but i also think this guy has chosen to fight a loosing battle…..Good Luck….


Todd March 20, 2012

DGB I agree that the cities should have an available commissary and I am glad that your state has so many of them but its almost impossible to find one here unless you know someone…


Eric March 20, 2012

GOOD LUCK STEVE I agree with the guy I am being forced to drive 50 miles to a Commissary


sandi calhoun March 20, 2012

i agree with you ben and the rest commisary are really not neccesary the hd can come inspect my trailer at will , thats what they say, so they can come check my kitchen bet its cleaner than alot of restraunts out there. we too have to drive 45-50 miles to a commisary unless we know someone who owns a restraunt and with gas prices hovering $4.00 and working 4-6 hr shift i really dont want to drive another 2 hours round trip and the gas forget about it! we will all have to raise our reasonable prices to cover that expense


sandi calhoun March 20, 2012

o i forgot to say that would mean going 50 miles to get the cart every morning and back every evening its just not feasable
almost 200 miles a day bs i drive a truck that get about 20 mpg not happening


Joe March 21, 2012

Will the health dept waive the commissary, if what is cooked on the cart is purchased the same day that it is cooked? In WV they will the only issue that I had was disposal of the waste water.


Todd March 22, 2012

I could have been selling dogs for the past month if I had a commissary.


eric March 23, 2012

I agree with everyone having to have a commissary and leave my cart there every night is a problem


Darren Culbertson March 23, 2012

its crazy how every county has there own different rules


Robb Harper May 11, 2012

Yup, and they Vary greatly sometimes from one to the next.


Julian March 23, 2012

I hope all goes well for this guy. People should be able to earn a living.


Darren Culbertson March 24, 2012

Maybe if steve wins it will ggive us a leg to stand on to argue with the courts, and give us as a whole some leverage


Ron March 28, 2012

My HD girl told me that at the beginning of the fiscal, they have anywhere from 600 – 800 units to inspect. They can’t possibly believe that all those vendors are going to actually use a commissary rather than their homes.

For the most part, the HD employees are like anyone else: They want to go home at the end of the day, unwind, have a bbq with friends on the weekend and leave the job behind for a while.

Get off your high horse and try to overcome the ‘poor me’ attitude, Steve. Get the damn paper signed like everyone else does and move on.


dave d March 29, 2012

You would think local churches, elks lodge and daycare centers would be more receptive to let the little guy use their kitchens for a small fee or get fed makes you wonder who helped them out in their time of need?


Ed Jones April 16, 2012

Well Steve, I wish you luck…


Matthew May 14, 2012

In the democracy (UNITED STATES Incorporated) you have NO RIGHTS!

Throw all this B.S. about “Constitutional Rights” into the trash, because it absolutely means nothing.

Any time you are interacting in commerce/business with the PUBLIC, you are REQUIRED to obey all the laws (contracts) which are in place.

This guy is a douchebag, and even more so are his lawyers. They already know this is a case to be lost, but will continue to bill him, even taking this matter to trial, all to make more money off him.


Frank May 15, 2012

Just joined


Ed Jones June 19, 2012

Hey Steve, Whats the update?


erin February 7, 2014

Any update to this case, im wanting to start a hotdog cart business and nc has such ridiculous rules.


Roy baggett May 15, 2015

Hi ben,I have recently stumbled across your carts and from that i have discovered a weath of information on vending. Thank you for all your doing to help others. I have thought about the vending/hotdog stands for some time and was not sure where to even start,that is no longer an isue i hope to be buying a cart in the near future but i have to wait for the funds. In the mean time i will be reading and watching every video and article.


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