Already my phone is ringing off the hook and my…
email inbox has 100 questions a day all from potential vendors wanting more information. Just yesterday, I received 13 calls and over 20 emails about serving other foods from a cart.
The thought process goes something like this;
I need to find something to make a living…
I found this hot dog vending business to be very interesting…
I can do this…
(looks at carts online)
I have a great idea! All these other vendors offer hot dogs, I’m going to offer something different…
Maybe bbq, soup, cheeseburgers, pancakes, etc…
So you can imagine the questions I get next… Can you do custom carts? YES Can you put a deep fryer, a soup warmer, a turning spit, an oven (I want to bake pies) etc. etc. etc? YES
All great ideas, but do you know why other vendors are mostly serving just hot dogs from an open cart? Because most states have very strict guidelines on what is allowed to be served from an open cart. Most state codes say; ONLY NON-POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS FOODS. I understand though, it’s exciting and just that fact that you are thinking outside the box shows potential for SUCCESS!
For those that have read ANSI Codes, hot dogs are considered potentially hazardous, but not to most states. Even if they do consider them potential hazardous (PH) states make special heating and serving requirements.
Now don’t be discouraged, some states allow other foods. Just not many. Best way to find out is to call the Health Department or Agriculture Division, whomever in your state inspects restaurants or food services.
Here in Tennessee, I can serve only hot dogs. I can not serve cheese, sauerkraut or chili – unless the chili is vegetarian, which contains no meat.
But, I have friends and customers whom are allowed to offer cheese here in the state of TN. Some are allowed to offer sausages, coleslaw, sauerkraut and other cool items. That is just a matter of your inspectors interpretation of the same rules. Some vendors get a very liberal inspector.
Here’s a video I did some time ago.
I’m allowed to sell sausage too, but it must be precooked as well. Precooked foods are considered Non PH. Your best bet is to always talk to your health department inspector first. That person will be able to tell you what you can offer from an open cart.
Be ready for change, when I started, my first inspector allowed cheese but not coleslaw, the second inspector allowed just the opposite. So I had to go with squeeze cheese (cheeze wiz) when I got my new inspector.
Well I hope that helps. If you are just getting started, don’t hesitate to post questions, check out the 1 on 1 training section above and the many posts here that can help you make the best decisions. Happy New Year!
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