E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart

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SnugPups
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2009/01/27 16:11:14 (permalink)

E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart

 Does anybody have experience with building one of these carts?  A lot of members of this forum have recommended Steve's other website http://www.hotdogprofits.com but I have yet to see any discussion about http://www.buildahotdogcart.com .  I have read a few discussions about building your own cart and sadly there wasn't much to the discussion other than some rather unhelpful remarks about peoples opinion of trying to do work on the cheap.  I plan to work this forward into a business but at this moment it's a planned hobby so failure isn't anything that bothers me.  I hope to do it for the fun of it and if it's a wild success then even better.

I have a few questions outside of building a cart of my own.  Mainly regarding speed and ease of doing business.  It would seem a steamer along with a grill is optimal.  The steamer box allows a large number of dogs to be ready at all times and available for instant sale.  Am  right in assuming this?  Also, when dealing with food and money as a solo operator it looks as though it can get to be a bit much taking gloves off, putting them back on, etc.  Would rolling buns in foil sheets as prep help with this as you can semi unroll the bun without touching the food and use your tongues to apply the dog etc?  I am thinking this way would optimal for time as well as food safety.   I'd also like your thoughts on condiments and prep, I have been thinking about making specialty dogs like a Chicago Style or a Philly Cheese Dog as well as a build your own.  Is it simply better to allow the customers to apply all of thier own toppings with maybe instructions for making specialty dogs near the condiments?  Something like a poster saying "Discover the taste of Chicago, make your own Chicago style dog..." Instructions following with a bit of humor thrown in regarding Catsup or Ketchup depending on your preferred spelling.

I also have an opportunity to use a caterers license allowing me to serve beer and wine.. are there any speedbumps, issue, etc I might hit with this?  Also, are the horror or success stories anyone would like to share?

Thanks in advance for all of your feedback.

Jason - SnugPups Gourmet Dogs and Sausages
post edited by SnugPups - 2009/01/27 16:19:26
#1

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    SnugPups
    Junior Burger
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/01/27 21:06:51 (permalink)
    I think my reasoning for building the cart is more for the sheer fact that I don't mind working on things and as a matter of fact I enjoy it.  I can purchase a few decent used carts here locally but I want to find out about building one.  Call it a tinkerers mind at work.  

    As for going solo, I think there are way too many pitfalls with having a second person with you to start.  If you are not successful then you have two people not making money and not one.  I don't see the issue with restocking being a real problem.  Store clerks at 7 eleven do it every single day.  I honestly believe there are food handling techniques that allow one person to easilly serve and take cash in without contaminating  the food.  

    But yeah, my desire to build is mainly as a tinkerer, besides if these plans are as easy and affordable as the website claims theres no reason not to make them.

    Oh and as for being busy etc... I'm not real worried, it's Idaho, not New Jersey :D.  I also don't plan to be there long hours where I might have a serious worry about the bathroom etc.. and as for hooking the cart up and such, I plan to walk the cart to and from my vehicle, not drive my vehicle to and from my cart.  If I find I am busy enough to warrant two people then of course I will have two people, but until then I won't be worrying about it very much.

    What I'd like to know is how people do it solo.  For instance the idea of tongs and wrapped buns to prevent handling of food items for contamination prevention.  Self prepared or customer prepared.  Steamed or grilled.  A lot of these questions have been answered in one way or another with people opinions in this forum.  Some have not been discussed in detail however.  The actual cart building has never really been touched upon, every last post seems to state "buy one".  That seems like sensible way to approach it, however I prefer to build it.  I take pride in making things with my own hands.  I was hoping that since this seems to be the only forum with any discussion about hot dog carts that I can find some more info from the users.  
    post edited by SnugPups - 2009/01/27 21:09:00
    #2
    georgiadogs
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/01/27 21:38:21 (permalink)
    I am with Mike. The time and effort you spend on making a cart could be well used getting established in an area and getting your rep. out there. I am just getting started here but I know from past exp I would have to call someone to fix my mess and finish building the cart. While we are on the subject of wrapping buns, does anybody use styro clamshells. It doesn't smoosh all the toppinging down the side of the dog. Is there a down side that I am not thinking of?
    #3
    SnugPups
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/01/27 21:58:22 (permalink)
    Thanks for your replies.  Let me see if I can word the opening paragraph differently.

    " Does anybody have experience with building one of these carts?  A lot of members of this forum have recommended Steve's other website http://www.hotdogprofits.com but I have yet to see any discussion about http://www.buildahotdogcart.com .  I have read a few discussions about building your own cart and sadly there wasn't much to the discussion other than some rather unhelpful remarks about peoples opinion of trying to do work on the cheap.  I plan to work this forward into a business but at this moment it's a planned hobby so failure isn't anything that bothers me.  I hope to do it for the fun of it and if it's a wild success then even better. "

    I don't mean to sound rude but I know I will.  If you read my opening paragraph, nowhere in there does it state that I want to buy a cart.  I even mentioned the fact that I've read the threads where this was brought up before and thought that the opinions about buying a cart vs doing the work on the cheap (diy) were not very helpful at all because they do not even answer the question.  Secondly I clearly stated that I plan to do this as a hobby, I am not all gungho fired up about jumping behind a cart and getting rich.  My questions clearly revolve around building a cart and possible reviews of http://www.buildahotdogcart.com , and how to operate it solo while taking into account food contamination and speed of service vs customer service.   

    Also, please, unless your question has do with with pre-placing the buns in the clamshell to avoid handling thus contaminating the product if you are not wearing gloves, refrain from hijacking my thread and possibly having it go off on some tangent not related to my original question in any way.  Thanks for your opinion but it honestly has nothing to do with my question.
    #4
    georgiadogs
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/01/27 22:03:04 (permalink)
    I wish you well in your endeavors.
    #5
    SnugPups
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/01/27 22:28:48 (permalink)
    yep, that's what the buzzer bell is for when you open the door
    #6
    Dr of BBQ
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/01/27 22:50:07 (permalink)
    It's too bad you couldn't work a cart for a week or two so that you'd get an idea of what you like and don't like about the cart. I guess you could try and talk to a bunch of Hot Dog Cart People, and ask them what they do or don't like about their cart setup.

    But I thought that was the direction your post would go when I read it.

    I built a trailer, 3 or was it 4 times? LOL I kept taking it apart and redoing things until I had it right. It works pretty well now, there is not much I'd change. So go for it.
    Jack
    #7
    SnugPups
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/01/27 23:37:57 (permalink)
    Thank for the words of encouragement.  Sadly or maybe beneficially there are very few vendors here.  That link to the build your own cart is very similar to the carts people purchase based on the description and pictures.  Integrated grill, running water, sink/s, steamer/s, storage, cooler, foldable tow bar.... etc.  Seems very similar to most all other carts in its size range.  I had hoped somebody had experience with the operator of that website that would instill a bit of confidence when ordering his program/plans.  It's not a lot of money to spend but why spend money needlessly?

    I know for a fact i want the integrated grill and steam area.  The rest is really trimmings to me.  Condiment boxes, storage, cooler.. those are things I can add or remove to any cart.  I like hte fact that the plans provide for powered running water hot and cold.  I've seen some of the monkey'd water systems in some of the pre-fab carts and I though I could do better with aquarium gear.  

    So just for discussion then since we are probably not going to get any responses with feedback on the seller of the plans/course let's discuss the merits of items on a cart and placement.  For example: I am curious about the raised shelf on a lot of these carts -

    http://64.235.35.226/hotdogs/cart.jpg


    The tall part between you and the customer near the hitch.  Is this actually someone people want with their carts?  I would think maybe a foot longer cart with no raised shelf would be much more personal.  Something like:

    http://www.acewelds.com/pics_misc/hot_dog_cart3.jpg


    I'm not an expert on any of it but I would think this style actually give you more usable area for storage.

    I'm pretty confident I can modify the plans from buildahtdogcart to fit my style.  It seems this is simple a box to fit code mounted on a very lightweight trailer.  

    What are some of the things you could not live without, or better things you would do to make your cart more friendly if you were to be able to redesign it form scratch and have it built properly?

    As for the food handling part of the questions I think any suggestions for no touch would be greatly helpful.  

    The catering permit would only be for private lots or events that allow alchohol consumption.  I have Zero plans for selling beer on the street.  The commisary i had lined up has offered to join with me in events so that I may sell wine and beer via the catering license through them partnered with me.  I think this is a great opportunity but I do not know the legallities of it.  That's why I asked in my original post.  

    Anyway, thanks for your replies.  
    #8
    JacksSnacks
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/01/28 19:14:36 (permalink)
    I build everything , it drives my wife nuts! I have built three sawmills and a log splitter , a 10 foot by 5 CNC router, my concession trailer and Im getting stuff together now to build a hot dog "table" /cart. She doesnt understand it but like the last sawmill to buy it was $35 k so I built my own, yes it took awhile- I was working full time but It cost about $700 for metal and my father-in-law ran it for the last 10 years. I like building things, Its more like a hobby for me. I looked at a cart I sold and I would bet there was not $250 of material in it! 
    #9
    SnugPups
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/01/28 19:53:10 (permalink)
    I've made quite a few things in my life.  I was raised the grandson of a master cabinetmaker and was trained in his shop during the summers.  I used to built ultra light airplane kits for sale.  I've built my own "wood" fish tanks.  I suppose my whole life I've been taught to find a way to make it.  

    Building the cart doesn't intimidate me in the least.  If it fails it's not a big deal.  


    There are on a few things in this cart build that actually might cost a bit.  Water Pump with heater, Grill, and mounting trailer.  I figure the trailer is about 200, the water pump is anywhere from 35-100+, and the grill is atleast 75.  Not major expenses but they are the big ones in this build.
    #10
    beijinger
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/01/28 20:09:00 (permalink)
       Congrats snugpups best of luck the pride you will put in to building your own has no price tag. Totally off subject once xuilt what's it like getting it inspected by zoning and health department. Again right on go for it.
    #11
    JacksSnacks
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/01/28 20:34:55 (permalink)
    I saw that they built the water tank up above the table area, with the bread locker , the water ran down to the sinks with gravity, then they had a small "box" next to the burners to generate hot water, it was really simple.
    #12
    Foodbme
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/01/28 20:39:39 (permalink)
    JacksSnacks

    I saw that they built the water tank up above the table area, with the bread locker , the water ran down to the sinks with gravity, then they had a small "box" next to the burners to generate hot water, it was really simple.


     
    Jack, we luv ya man---but you don't need to use size 5 type. Use something smaller.


    #13
    catnhatnh
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/01/28 21:10:39 (permalink)
    Umm, about the water heater....most carts don't have one. Electrics require a second power source and propanes are costly and eat from your cooking tank. The most common (depending on health department regulations) is a series of copper coils in the area where your cooking heat comes from....
    #14
    SnugPups
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/01/29 03:43:44 (permalink)
    something like what you use to chill beer while brewing?  Chiller coil?
    #15
    Hambonemalone
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/05 18:00:25 (permalink)
    I'm designing and building my own cart to work on the beach and I say "go for it" when it comes to building your own. I felt a "little Poo Pooed" from a couple of responces to my post regarding it here see http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/Beach-Cart-Design-Now-with-Pics-m466061.aspx but am forging on anyway. After all, it's just basic mechanical and structural engineering not brain surgery Ha Ha! I'm planning on just a couple of loops of copper tubing inside the "Firebox" area on my cart to heat the water. but am using a small 12v pump for pressurization. Good Luck with your project!
    #16
    Bill Reynolds
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/06 19:16:34 (permalink)
    Jason,have you ordered the plans for this cart yet?I also am interested in building my own cart but am not much at working with metal.However,I have a friend that is excellant at it.We are both slow in our work being in construction.I have done high end interior trim work in houses for years and Ray,my friend did some incredible metal stairways.I was just wondering if the cart in these plans in framed up with plywood.

    Thanks,
    Bill
    #17
    star5o
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/09 18:54:17 (permalink)
    Hey I can't build anything but will be willing to pay for some one to build my cart a little cheaper this is some sites I was looking at 
    Mobile girlls they are really a good price an and lot cheaper.

    http://www.stainlesssteelstore.com/stainless-steel-shelves.html
     
    http://www.bakertowne.com/catalog/item.php?unid=984
     
    http://www.mobilegrills.com/holland1.htm
     
     
    #18
    star5o
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/09 18:56:34 (permalink)
    Hey I can't build anything but will be willing to pay for some one to build my cart a little cheaper this is some sites I was looking at Mobile girlls they are really a good price an and lot cheaper
     
    http://www.stainlesssteelstore.com/stainless-steel-shelves.html http://www.bakertowne.com/catalog/item.php?unid=984
    http://www.mobilegrills.com/holland1.htm
     
    #19
    SnugPups
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/13 03:16:19 (permalink)
     I have not ordered the plans yet.  I am headed to the local home dumpster to check on the price of their trailers since I have a pretty good idea about the trailer that is used in the designs.  From there I'll either forge ahead on my own or order the instructions.  I have a feeling that ordering the instructions could be a good idea considering the health codes.
    #20
    Dr of BBQ
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/13 08:40:21 (permalink)
    Star,

    The first site Stainless Steel Store prices are way out of line. You need to keep in mind used restaurant equipment prices are very very low if you shop wisely. If you’re on a tight budget start searching Ebay for whatever you need. Don't buy less thinking you'll get by because you'll end up replacing items in short order as they won't stand up to everyday use.

    You can buy the same shelves listed on that site (used) on Ebay for about 20 cents on the dollar.

    Having not run a cart and hiring someone to build one that has no experience in that process, will lead to a ton of problems. What will seem as a good move and make common sense, will be looked at later as a total blunder, and be unworkable or have to be redone.

    Save your money until you can afford to do it correctly or buy a little at a time, so when you’re done you have a small kitchen that complies with your local HD rules and is easy to run and makes you a living wage. Don't create undue headaches for yourself later.

    Just some thoughts, good luck
    Jack
    #21
    SnugPups
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/13 16:20:10 (permalink)
    Well trailers are not readily available.  I'll be doing some net research on them.  I tried Home Depot, Lowes, Fred Meyer (amazingly they had the only kits, just way to big), Schucks, Autozone, and D & B Supply.  No luck.
    #22
    edwmax
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/13 16:57:23 (permalink)
    Trailer kits are available.
    http://www.utilitytrailerkit.com/

    I might be able to builf the cart for you. but i'm in South Georgia. You would have to pick it up or pay shipping. I'll check with a friend Monday.

    #23
    kennyb
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/13 17:26:56 (permalink)
    northern tool, www.northerntool.com has the small trailers that they make the carts out of. $229 or so, i think. 
    #24
    Bill Reynolds
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/13 17:44:36 (permalink)
    Harbor Freight has them also. They have a smaller one that would most likely work for a basic hot dog cart and a larger one,about eight feet long for a bigger one. They are from about $200-300. If I were going to use one of them I would be sure to check all the welds and repaint it with some high quality paint.
    #25
    star5o
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/13 20:44:38 (permalink)
    Dr. of BBQ,
     
    I Know you are right!! Just got excited over saving some money.  I almost lit up just like a christmas tree.  I'm new to the business, still learning, reading on the license, never work in food service, and never had a business be for, So I know you are right I need to put on the brakes and take my time and do it right.
     
    Thanks for bringing me back !!! 
    Amy(star5o)
    #26
    Philsweep
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/26 12:08:55 (permalink)
    Hi, I just ordered the e-z built cart from Steve's website and it should be here in the next couple of days. So I was intrigued by your question. I also called the health Dept. in my area and they want to see the schematics before I build so I don't waste my time and money on something they won't  approve. According to the web site this is all provided. I wasn't sure about building or buying one already made but they would need to see schematics before a bought a pre made one also again so I don't waste my money. I have e mailed steve with some questions and he assures me it is very easy to build, hence the name E-Z built. I am just looking to do local events for the time being and when I retire in 5 years move south and do it for a daily lunch to supplement my income. That way I can get kinks worked out. The health department has been very helpful here in Western NY and I had managed restaurants in the past for about 13 years so it shouldn't be a problem. I will let you know about the plans when they come
    #27
    quickdog
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/26 17:11:42 (permalink)
    Bill Reynolds

    Harbor Freight has them also. They have a smaller one that would most likely work for a basic hot dog cart and a larger one,about eight feet long for a bigger one. They are from about $200-300. If I were going to use one of them I would be sure to check all the welds and repaint it with some high quality paint.


    That's where I got mine. I built 4 walls and it's going to be my transportation for my next push cart. Here is the link.
     
    http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=42708
     
    http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=42709
     
    #28
    Bill Reynolds
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/26 22:39:15 (permalink)
      Quickdog, how did you build the walls and what did you use for materials? I am sure a cart could be put together much cheaper than what you see online. I got into Road Food to start off with to learn what I could about the cart business and have been happy with the results. Many fine people on here. I will, at some point in time, if there is a place for it here, post a build of a hot dog cart that may or may not be a viable atternative to paying a few thousands of dollars for a cart. But at the meantime, my son is with the Marine Corps in Iraq, My wife has been in the hospital and will be out tommorrow better than she went in and my dog is starved for attention because we have not been  here for her. But someday, I will post it. It will also depend on nothing else going south.
    #29
    quickdog
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    Re:E-Z Built Hot Dog Cart 2009/02/27 02:49:57 (permalink)
    I just used 1/2 inch plywood and alot of nuts and bolts. I bought hindges for the tail gate. I am also going to duplicate my tow hotdog  cart I have now but without the tow hitch. The city will  not alow me to have a hitch or DMV registered cart on the public streets, plus I need a second cart. I will meet with my Health Inspector or give him a ring. I want to build the cart right and make sure I have enough sinks and cold water hot water storage. Also i have to have refridgeration in this cart cause that's the new rules in CA. 
     
     

     

     
    #30
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