Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed

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Methais
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2008/11/05 16:34:35 (permalink)

Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed

Hey folks. I'm looking to get into the hot dog business, and just purchased a used Custom 525 cart. Unfortunately, I'm as new as it gets at this, and was hoping to get some information on what will probably sound like ridiculously stupid questions, but here goes.

Here's a front view of the cart:


Behind those flaps with the holes in them are the two burners. The left four pots have a big pot underneath them (which seems odd, because the fourth pot from the left sits above the second burner), and the two pots to the right have no big pot underneath (i.e. you remove those two pots, and you're looking at the burner).

I'm assuming that the big pot underneath the four small pots on the left is where I put the water, right? Should I drill holes into the four small pots (sitting above the big pot underneath) to allow steam to get through?

As for the two pots on the right with no big pot underneath them, should I purchase a big pot to put under those too, to increase my steaming capacity? Or just leave them as is for condiments and whatnot?

I apologize if this came across as confusing, as I don't know the correct terminology for this stuff, if it even exists.

If anyone can offer me some information, general advice, or hell even a user's manual for this thing, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks :)
#1

18 Replies Related Threads

    PopsDogHouse
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    RE: Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2008/11/05 18:32:12 (permalink)
    Welcome to Roadfood! I will try to answer your questions concisely for you.

    I'm assuming that the big pot underneath the four small pots on the left is where I put the water, right? Correct!

    Should I drill holes into the four small pots (sitting above the big pot underneath) to allow steam to get through?
    I would reccomend purchasing perforated steam pans. These are available at any restaurant supply.

    As for the two pots on the right with no big pot underneath them, should I purchase a big pot to put under those too, to increase my steaming capacity? Or just leave them as is for condiments and whatnot? The pans directly over the burner are usually for cooking meat. If you are boiling or simmering this brings them up to temperature quicker. You can double pan them if you want to use them for condiments. If you double pan it will help you to NOT burn your condiments. I would reccomend that you use this direct heat as it was intended (cooking your meat).

    I apologize if this came across as confusing, as I don't know the correct terminology for this stuff, if it even exists. No apology neccessary. There is alot of knowledge here on this forum. From what I've seen, most are willing to share openly. If I can help you any more shoot me an email.

    Nice cart by the way. I think you will enjoy it.

    #2
    konnie
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    RE: Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2008/11/05 21:16:28 (permalink)
    Take the make, model and serial number. Get on the web and see if you can find an owners manual. Quite often they are available through the mfg or a third party. By the way, nice looking cart. What kind is it?

    Mike S.
    #3
    PopsDogHouse
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    RE: Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2008/11/05 21:26:16 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by konnie

    Take the make, model and serial number. Get on the web and see if you can find an owners manual. Quite often they are available through the mfg or a third party. By the way, nice looking cart. What kind is it?

    Mike S.



    Or call 1-800-257-7855 and see if they'll send you one for a reasonable fee. If you have any mechanical issues or questions on construction, Jay is their engineer.
    #4
    Methais
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    RE: Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2008/11/05 23:16:17 (permalink)
    The pans directly over the burner are usually for cooking meat. If you are boiling or simmering this brings them up to temperature quicker. You can double pan them if you want to use them for condiments. If you double pan it will help you to NOT burn your condiments. I would reccomend that you use this direct heat as it was intended (cooking your meat).
    Makes sense. I'm also considering selling meatball subs on the cart, so it sounds like those pans would be ideal for keeping them hot. I'll most likely use those small circular pans for condiments.

    Or call 1-800-257-7855 and see if they'll send you one for a reasonable fee. If you have any mechanical issues or questions on construction, Jay is their engineer.
    Awesome, I'll definitely give them a call tomorrow too.

    By the way, nice looking cart. What kind is it?
    It's a Custom 525. I don't know if that's its actual brand name or not, but that's what I always see it listed as so I'm guessing it is.

    Also I have another quick question...I'm currently storing this thing out back with a tarp over it. Will it be ok being stored like that for the time being? Or should I find some type of enclosed area ASAP? I'm planning on closing in my carport eventually anyway once I can afford it, but I don't want the weather to eat this cart up in the meantime, as I probably won't be able to enclose the carport for at least a few months.

    Thanks again everyone I appreciate the help :)
    #5
    PopsDogHouse
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    RE: Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2008/11/06 06:59:31 (permalink)
    Also I have another quick question...I'm currently storing this thing out back with a tarp over it. Will it be ok being stored like that for the time being? Or should I find some type of enclosed area ASAP? I'm planning on closing in my carport eventually anyway once I can afford it, but I don't want the weather to eat this cart up in the meantime, as I probably won't be able to enclose the carport for at least a few months.

    I would get it inside as quickly as you can. In addition to weather, there's also ugly critters outside. Once you begin using it, your Health Dept. more than likely would crucify you for storing it outside.
    #6
    Methais
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    RE: Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2008/11/06 09:43:44 (permalink)
    I would get it inside as quickly as you can. In addition to weather, there's also ugly critters outside. Once you begin using it, your Health Dept. more than likely would crucify you for storing it outside.

    That's about what I figured, though was hoping otherwise. I looked at some cheap storage sheds online, a lot of which are under $500 and seem pretty decent for what I need it for, but I don't know how the health department would feel about a storage shed either once I'm up and running. I'm guessing they probably wouldn't be too crazy about that either, you think? Not to mention I'm in Louisiana, so the next hurricane that eventually comes along would probably just blow it to bits.

    Hmm...what to do here. I wonder if my area requires me to store the cart at my commissary partner's (which I still need to find one, but that shouldn't be too hard) place, which I suppose would solve that problem for me once I'm up and running. But I wonder what I should do in the meantime.

    Anyone have any suggestions?
    #7
    konnie
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    RE: Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2008/11/06 11:45:40 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Methais

    I would get it inside as quickly as you can. In addition to weather, there's also ugly critters outside. Once you begin using it, your Health Dept. more than likely would crucify you for storing it outside.

    That's about what I figured, though was hoping otherwise. I looked at some cheap storage sheds online, a lot of which are under $500 and seem pretty decent for what I need it for, but I don't know how the health department would feel about a storage shed either once I'm up and running. I'm guessing they probably wouldn't be too crazy about that either, you think? Not to mention I'm in Louisiana, so the next hurricane that eventually comes along would probably just blow it to bits.

    Hmm...what to do here. I wonder if my area requires me to store the cart at my commissary partner's (which I still need to find one, but that shouldn't be too hard) place, which I suppose would solve that problem for me once I'm up and running. But I wonder what I should do in the meantime.

    Anyone have any suggestions?


    I would look into renting a small public storage unit on a short term basis. It would have cement floors and would protect from larger critters. I would still put out rat/mice poison for the little guys. Plus if it has electricity you could always keep a fridge and other storage there. Around here they normally cost $35 to $50 a month for a small one. Good luck

    Mike S.
    #8
    PopsDogHouse
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    RE: Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2008/11/06 21:34:54 (permalink)
    Hmm...what to do here. I wonder if my area requires me to store the cart at my commissary partner's (which I still need to find one, but that shouldn't be too hard) place, which I suppose would solve that problem for me once I'm up and running. But I wonder what I should do in the meantime.

    Anyone have any suggestions?

    Yep. You really need to find out what your Health dept. requirements are. You don't want any surprises. Also, sometimes finding a viable commissary is the biggest hurdle and barrier to entry to this business. I would recommend that you start your search.

    I agree with Mike on the storage unit suggestion. Clean it up. Keep it clean, and operate clean.
    #9
    Methais
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    RE: Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2008/11/06 22:24:31 (permalink)
    I got a bunch of paperwork from the health department the other day and sat down with it earlier today, and I didn't see anything about having to store it at my commissary partner's place, fortunately. I do have a possible commissary partner too with a friend of mine that owns a restaurant (which I also work at). We're gonna go over things probably within the next week so hopefully he'll let me do that, he's pretty cool about stuff and I'm not gonna be setting up in his area anyway, so I won't be a competitor or anything like that.

    If that falls through though, I have some other possible partners. I'll verify it with the health dept about storage, and then buy that little storage shed I was looking at and keep it stored in there. I'm not going to operate until I have a place to store it regardless, cause storing it outside would just be nasty.

    I have a small shed built onto my carport that I'd love to use, except there's no way the cart would fit through the doorway. Maybe I can convince some of my carpenter friends to widen that up some, with any luck.

    Thanks again for the help :)
    #10
    Methais
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    RE: Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2008/12/16 15:38:14 (permalink)
    Hey folks, I'm back with a few more questions if someone has time to answer them :)

    I'm getting closer to startup time (finishing up my permits now). I'm getting excited, but also a bit nervous because I'm still totally inexperienced at this and feel like I have no idea what I'm doing, and would prefer for day one to not be a catastrophe a'la Jack Tripper.

    I fired up the cart a couple weeks ago for a test run to make sure everything worked (which it did), but noticed that I kept having to add water in my steam table.

    I initially filled the table with probably 2-3 inches of water, and once it heated up, it evaporated pretty fast. I had it running for probably about 2 hours or so, and over that time I had to add more water to the steam table 2 or 3 times.

    Is this normal for a cart? Obviously the water isn't going to last forever, but I was wondering what's considered normal for how long the water in the steam table lasts, or how much water I should be initially putting into the steam table?

    Also, what is a good way to go about refilling it while working, without looking unprofessional? I'm guessing that pulling some pans out and dumping jugs of water into the table during operation would look pretty ghetto, but I'm not exactly seeing any other way to go about it.

    I also noticed that some of my buns were getting a very slight toasted effect while sitting in the steam pan. Mainly just the ones on the bottom, which I'm guessing is because they were sitting on hot metal. Is there anything I can buy for my steam pans so that I won't have any buns sitting direcly on the metal but still allow steam through?

    And lastly, can someone give me some suggestions on a good way to have my layout set up for stuff I need to keep hot? I'd like to keep chili and cheese sauce on the cart, and I'm also planning on serving (pre-cooked) meatball subs, so I'll be needing to keep meatballs in sauce warm too.

    As of right now, I'm using the double pan all the way on the right for keeping the hot dogs in hot water (I'm going to pre boil them at my commissary before I head out, because it took forever to get the water boiling on the test run for some reason).

    The steam table sits under the left four pans (which also confuses me a bit, as the fourth pan from the left is sitting over the second burner, which I thought was used for cooking/simmering), so I'm kind of at a loss here on how to go about keeping all those things (hot dogs, chili, cheese sauce, and meatballs) hot, while still having room to keep buns steamed.

    I'm open to putting other types of pans in the cart if necessary, but I really have no clue what the choices even are or what would work best.

    I think that about covers it for now. If someone could toss me some advice or suggestions, it will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance :)
    #11
    ArnieTX
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    RE: Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2008/12/16 16:45:38 (permalink)
    Look through my posts - ArnieTX - and you will find a lot of answers to your questions. I started from scratch and went through the same discovery period. I'm still learning and during this process I documented a lot of my experiences on this board. Spend a month reading every post on this board. Use the search function, etc - great info everywhere, you just have to learn how to find it.

    I would suggest sticking to one product, hot dogs or whatever in the beginning. Get good at one thing, grow your customer base by providing a focused, quality product, and expand down the road as you learn. KISS is the key to hot dog carts and having a unique product that nobody else offers in your area will also help you.

    You have a nice cart. Take your pans to a restaraunt supply company and ask them for advice on diffenent pans ,pots, etc that have the same dimesnions as yours that you could possibly use on your cart to do xxxxxxxxxxxx. Perforated steam pans can steam dogs and buns. No need to boil dogs, just simmer. Get a temp gauge and get them to 145-160 degrees( or whatever your health department says).

    This all ties back to what you want to sell.

    Good luck and Merry Christmas

    Arnie
    #12
    Methais
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    RE: Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2008/12/16 23:31:20 (permalink)
    Thanks Arnie, I'll take a look at your posts, and Merry Christmas to you too :)
    #13
    quickdog
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    RE: Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2008/12/17 03:29:10 (permalink)
    Just a FYI if your friend thinks the cart will take up too much room at his establishment. Might not be the same there but my Health Dept said I can use a storage unit as long as I get a signed letter to where I store my hotdogs. He told me it can be from a liquor store, or lodge or restaurant, etc.. I was getting advise from another hot dog vendor and he told me he uses the place that he purchases his meat ( a local meat packing company) as a commisary letter, then stores his cart at a storage place.

    Maybe I can help with your other questions. I am pretty new to this as well. (2 years)

    "I initially filled the table with probably 2-3 inches of water, and once it heated up, it evaporated pretty fast. I had it running for probably about 2 hours or so, and over that time I had to add more water to the steam table 2 or 3 times.Is this normal for a cart?"

    it is normal for the water to run out. Using a jug of water isn't bad.

    "I also noticed that some of my buns were getting a very slight toasted effect while sitting in the steam pan. Mainly just the ones on the bottom, which I'm guessing is because they were sitting on hot metal"

    Steam the buns like you would steam a hotdog. Add an inch of water then a steam tray then a bar cloth or 2 on top of the steam tray to absorb the water. You will have soggy hotdog buns if you leave them in too long but you will be able to adjust as you learn. I think the buns are harder to steam then cooking the meat. But it is very important to steam them, I wouldn't serve them dry.



    "I'd like to keep chili and cheese sauce on the cart, and I'm also planning on serving (pre-cooked) meatball subs, so I'll be needing to keep meatballs in sauce warm too"

    I wouldn't do cheese or chili for awhile. You will see just the basics will be keeping you busy. ketchup,mustard,kraut,onions,peppers,relish,tomatoes. Also I wouldn't over buy on chips. I made the mistake thinking everyone buys chips with their hot dog. I was Wrong. Plus chips expire pretty fast.



    "As of right now, I'm using the double pan all the way on the right for keeping the hot dogs in hot water (I'm going to pre boil them at my commissary before I head out, because it took forever to get the water boiling on the test run for some reason)."

    It should only be taking about 20-30 minutes to get the first batch fully cooked and the water heated up. Then you just add more hotdogs as you take them out to sell them. I think heating them up at the comissary will get old after awhile and end up wasting more time. Plus setting up your cart each day will take as long if not longer as it should take to have your first batch ready. I would crank the burners up, get a boil,turn them down to a simmer, then add the meat.

    "I'm open to putting other types of pans in the cart if necessary, but I really have no clue what the choices even are or what would work best."

    If you get a deep enough pan you can do the half boil half steam technique. You let the thawed or frozen hotdog "and you will have to freeze them sometimes" sit in the simmering water (not boiling) for a few minutes, then bring them up to the perforated pan to steam until they are bought. This saves alot of time on waiting for the dogs to cook. This is if you ever planned on selling steamed hot dogs. If not just use the simmering water method.

    "and would prefer for day one to not be a catastrophe a'la Jack Tripper."

    LOL , Damn I miss that show! but I still watch the reruns everytime I see it on the tube.

    Hope this helps,

    Cart looks nice




    #14
    LoriEllen
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    Re:Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2009/01/14 14:13:28 (permalink)
    Methais

    Hey folks. I'm looking to get into the hot dog business, and just purchased a used Custom 525 cart. Unfortunately, I'm as new as it gets at this, and was hoping to get some information on what will probably sound like ridiculously stupid questions, but here goes.

    Here's a front view of the cart:


    Behind those flaps with the holes in them are the two burners. The left four pots have a big pot underneath them (which seems odd, because the fourth pot from the left sits above the second burner), and the two pots to the right have no big pot underneath (i.e. you remove those two pots, and you're looking at the burner).

    I'm assuming that the big pot underneath the four small pots on the left is where I put the water, right? Should I drill holes into the four small pots (sitting above the big pot underneath) to allow steam to get through?

    As for the two pots on the right with no big pot underneath them, should I purchase a big pot to put under those too, to increase my steaming capacity? Or just leave them as is for condiments and whatnot?

    I apologize if this came across as confusing, as I don't know the correct terminology for this stuff, if it even exists.

    If anyone can offer me some information, general advice, or hell even a user's manual for this thing, I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thanks :)



    #15
    LoriEllen
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    Re:Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2009/01/14 14:21:52 (permalink)
    I was reading your message about what kind of hot dog buns to use.  When I go to the grocery store, I like to buy only wonder hot dog rolls because they are very soft and stay soft and I'm picky about the bread that I eat that it doesn't get crusty/hard when sitting out for a long time.  Just a idea for you.  Good Luck in your hot dog business.
    #16
    Methais
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    Re:Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2009/01/14 23:49:19 (permalink)
    Thanks Lori. I stumbled on another thread earlier where someone else was heavily praising Wonder buns too. I'll check them out.
    #17
    Foodbme
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    Re:Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2009/01/14 23:59:46 (permalink)
    USE THE "SEARCH" FUNCTION on this site. You will get 1-2 days worth of reading about all things Hot Dog Cart operations! A B.S. Degree in Hot Dog -ology! 
    #18
    mgicm
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    Re:Hot Dog Noob w/Custom 525 Cart - Advice Needed 2014/06/04 00:04:49 (permalink)
    I know this is old but I just picked up a Custom 525 cart. Can anyone take a photo of how burners are setup...? Seems mine is not correct. Sure appreciate it.

    Thanks kevin
    #19
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