Supply Questions

The Salty Dog
2011/03/08 15:52:56
This will be my 1st season with my cart   and I have a few questions and would appreciate forum feedback as I am trying to order some items.
1)  What is the best all around thermometer to be used for testing dogs/sausages etc.  I have been looking at the Taylor digital ones listed in webstaurant and they have ones with 1.5mm probes but there are different ones - is there a specific one everyone prefers?  These have the ability to be calibrated and are NSF.
2)  I was thinking to serve the dogs on foil wrap sheet - so if customer was to go back to the office with it it would stay warm - but the pricing for foil wrap sheets is unbelievable - would appreciate any recommendations - thought of the fluted trays or dry waxed paper and then having foil wrap available if customer was traveling away from cart with order.  Just wanted to hear what everyone else is using and if they have a good supplier to buy from.
3)  I have to put ALL condiments on myself and plan to use the San Jamar Dome chillable condiment system - the unit comes with 1 pt containers but can upgrade to 1-1/2 pt OR 1 qt size - I would prefer to use the 1-1/2 pt and have back-up condiments in refrigeration - how long will relish/onion, etc last - how many dogs on average? your opinion will I be refilling constantly?
4)  Disposable gloves are so darn expensive - the only really reasonable place I have found online is Glove Nation - just wondering if anybody buys from them and if so what is the preference?  I have samples of their non-latex powderfree coming - just curious if anyone has found a glove which they are happy with.
5)  Any preferences on sauerkraut?  My fav is silver floss - are there any other good ones out there which I should consider?
6)  Chips!?!?! a 1 oz bag a cheesy size???...if offered as the combo...if you offer a combo price for 2 dogs/drink/chips do you pretty much cut your profits in 1/2 on the drink/chips?  I cant seem to locate any chips larger than 1 oz available in quantity.  What size bag do you offer?...and are your customers happy? to keep them happy!!!!
I am sure there are so many more questions, but for now these will do.  There seems to be so many things to factor in to get going and I want it all perfect...LOL...and since there is always the uncertainty of how sales will be it is hard to estimate the quantities to purchase - so much uncertainty.
I hope to be placing the order in the very near future so if anyone can pipe in on this I would greatly appreciate it.
Buck & Vi's
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/08 16:49:50
for the thermometers I use the yellow probe version, they are cheap, easy to use, and adj.
IMHO fluted dog holders are junk ! for a 2 dog combo i use a 2#"boat" both dogs fit in there pretty well and it looks neater, if they get the combo i use the hinged container, 2 dogs, fries, and a side of ketchup( in a soufle cup w/ lid) fits just right.
1oz. bags are common around here for the combo, I offer fries w/ my combo seems everyone does chips so I offer something different. also here 2 dogs (Boars Head), drink, chips/fries.... 5.00...I also offer 2 nathans, fries, Lemonade...4.00
The Salty Dog
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/08 17:58:41
Thanks B&V...what brand is your it digital...does it have a skinny probe?  I too thought the fluted trays were flimsy looking - have not actually felt one - like the boat trays but with a single dog it would be lost in it - the boat trays would be great for the combos - wish I had a fryolator to do fries - that would be great, but not this year...thanks for the input
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/08 18:32:00
Foil sheets at Costco are about $9 for a box of 500.
I pay $5and change for vinyl gloves
Costco has 1.5-2 oz chips, 30 pack for around $10
Yoy need to lookfor your supplies at restaurant depot, costco and a cash & carry type wholesale place.
The Salty Dog
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/08 19:26:29

Foil sheets at Costco are about $9 for a box of 500.
I have checked @ BJ's and they have the foil sheets same $ as your Costco - just thought that was a lot...comps out to $.02 per sale.
I pay $5and change for vinyl gloves
Gloves @ BJ's were $10 200/box...another $.05 per sale
Costco has 1.5-2 oz chips, 30 pack for around $10
The chips @ BJ's all seem to be 1 oz or less except for Lays...about the same price as yours
Yoy need to lookfor your supplies at restaurant depot, costco and a cash & carry type wholesale place.

I have looked @ Restaurant Depot - will probably do the foil there - unfortunately I did not check their chip aisle - it was my 1st time there and I was a bit overwhelmed and did not expect the temperatures in there nor the atmosphere - boy, everyone whips those carts around like madmen!!! was comical.  Wish we had a Costco nearby, but am already a BJ's member so will make the best of that and make the occasional trip to Restaurant Depot.  Was just curious if everyone pays the $10 for foil, etc. or if there was an alternative.  Thanks Buba

Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/08 20:47:47
I just looked at my recept, the foil sheets are $8.59, and that's a good price, my other option for supplies is double the price.
#2 boats at costco are $5.59, 2 bucks cheaper than any other place. Togo containers are $9.79 for 100, can't get them cheaper.... $23 at the other place.
Gloves are a cost of doing business, my gloves are 100ct.
I used 2 boxes over the weekend, some days I can use the same ones for quite a while, other days, changing every couple of minutes. All depends on what your handling.
If you are only doing dogs, you should be able to only wear one glove, use the tongs in the bare hand, hold the bun in the gloved hand, or once you master the art you might be able to handle everything with a foil sheet and tongs, I'm not a dogger, but I'm sure some of these guys can do it, you should be able to assemble and dress a dog with out bare hand contact.
Saturday, I had a health inspection at an event, I was busy, lots of burgers and other raw meats going on the grill, the inspector told me I could use tongs to pick up the raw products instead of changing a glove every time, told her it was cheap insurance, she liked that.
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/08 21:26:30
I like to use the foil sheets. I find $5 for a box of 200 to be cheaper than any other type of method. I tried the digital therms and they did not work out for me. I use the non digital and calabrate them in boiling water. If you do use a digital make sure you have a non digital as a spare. Just in case the batteries go out while your working an event. You probably want to buy a few to have handy. Same goes for tongs. I used to sell the 1 1/2 oz bags but no longer. People might tell you it's a cheapy route but I have not had one complaint in my neck of the woods. Chips are my least seller at 1 1/2 oz or 1 oz. They are good to throw in with combos. I went to a sandwhich shop the other day. They throw in a 1/2 oz bag. Now that was a little too small.  
Gene's Dogs
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/08 21:52:42
Hi The Salty Dog. I'll weigh in too.

I use the foils. They really are pretty inexpensive and work very well for the way I serve and I use them for all sorts of other things. My thermometer was 2 for $10 is adjustable and works well.  You can pay more, but not necessary.

The gloves are expensive, but you only need them when you are handling food.  I use them for doing prep work and repackaging hot dogs. like chefbuba stated, with a little practice you can serve all day without ever touching the food.  It seriously only took about a dozen dogs to get it, then you just get faster with each dog.   I only use one or two a day unless I need one while serving for some reason. I switched to vinyl after a lady asked me if I used latex, because she was deathly allergic. I think they smell better, too. lol

I totally prefer Silver Floss in the refrigerated bag sauerkraut. I serve about an ounce and find it to be crisp, colorful and flavorful. There are usually a just few chunks that are too big for a dog, but not lost; those go to the head chef's belly.  Walmart purchase.

The one-ounce chips are not very big, but I think the folks who want the big bags go to the convenience store for $1 quarter pound dogs. If you do use them, be careful to watch for the skimpy flat ones. While they probably weigh, they didn't get their full shot of air and got squished. They work well for me, because I sell combo meals. A one-ounce chip and a can drink make a great half-price hot dog add-on and Restaurant Depot sells a good variety of them.

Estimating supplies is sort of tough until you get a feel for your crowd. I find buns the most difficult, because they are so perishable.  I have a Sam's card and go there for a few things, but it's a fair distance away.  I somehow arranged to have a Restaurant Depot built right in my neighborhood just before I became a hot dog guy.
The Salty Dog
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/09 18:04:30
Thanks everyone for the I went and bought a case of 1-1/2 oz bags of chips, but I totally agree that the 1 oz will be fine along with a combo - so I will probably offer the larger bags at a separate price.  Everyone has sold me on the foil so I gues I will bite the bullet and pay the $$$ for the 9x10-3/4" size @ $10/500 sheets....I guess it is not too too bad.  I was worried about the digital therms with the batteries running out and it would be my luck that it would happen on an inspection day - of course I would have at least one backup.  Nobody mentioned if it was necessary to go with the skinny probe for the hotdogs or not - if using a standard probe therm will it destroy the hotdog?!?  Also, since this is a one-man show (some of you must be too) how do you handle the money exchange if you do not use gloves?!?...I am afraid the gloves are going to be tough to work with but a necessity...I am thinking clean pair of gloves and tongs...bun on foil...tong dog...dress dog...make change...change gloves for next customer - will that work?!?  Does anybody follow that process?  I do not plan to have any barehand contact with any food, but the money exchange gets me.
Gene's Dogs...I have read that some people freeze their buns - have you ever done this?...and if so what did you think of the product afterwards?  Also, thanks for your agreement on the Silver Floss!
Thanks again everyone - you guys are awesome!
jay albers
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/09 19:26:42
hey salty,
you sound how i feel. Im doing the st patricks day parade in scranton on sat, Its the 3rd biggest parade, 100,000 thousand people!
This is my first outing and i just know im going to forget, or not even think of a million things!
Anyway, Good luck, Im sure we'll figure it out as we go
Diamond Dogs
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/09 22:54:05
Another way to calibrate the manual thermometer's is to fill a cup with ice, add water, stir and let it sit for a minute.  Then insert the probe and let it come to a rest.  It should be on 32 degrees.  Adjust as necessary to get it there.
On the gloves, I hate the bulky ones you get at Sam's Club.  In the heat of the summer they can be a real pain.  I prefer non powdered surgical type gloves.  They conform to the hand nicely and are more comfortable to wear.  No matter which gloves you use, make sure (especially in the heat) you dry your hands good or they'll be hell to get on ;-)
Bubba's right, on the one glove method. 
For what it's worth, here's how I do it:
I wear a glove on the right hand and none on the left.  I use the gloved hand fingers to open the bun and drop it into the steamer for a few seconds.  I also use the gloved hand to grab the foil or the container & place it in the left hand, use the tongs to open the lid (setting it on top of another lid, grab the bun with the tongs and place it on the foil. 
At this point, you can close the tongs, insert it into the bun and release and it will open the bun up, then grab your dog and pop it in and use the tongs to replace the lid & then you can smoothly use the same tongs to open up the chili, cheese, or kraut (Silverfloss here too) lids for dressing the dog.  I also serve grilled onions and keep a couple of sets of tongs on the front of the cart.  The kraut is an aquirred taste.  If someone doesn't like it, they REALLY don't like it, so I have tongs I use just for that, so that I don't get any on a Kraut hater's dog ;)
The rest of my condiments (mustard, ketchup, cold chopped onions, relish, cole slaw, jalapenos, BBQ sauce, & tabasco) are on the back of the cart and are self serve with plastic spoons (if someone drops one, I just put a clean one in and don't have to worry about washing).  This speeds the line up. 

I use five freezible ice packs for the condiment trays in the back of the cart and I have extras in the cart cooler for when they thaw out.  This keeps ice water from draining all over the back of the cart, plus I don't have to buy ice for it. 

I used to keep mustard and ketchup squeeze bottles on the front of the cart and put it on each dog, but it's much faster to get the bulk containers of ketchup and mustard and put them on the back of the cart.  You can buy the bulk containers at Sams for under $3.90 each and buy the pumps seperately here for $3.00:
If Wendy's can have self serve ketchup/mustard or any restaurant in your area can have a self serve salad bar, you should be able to do that also, so long as you are constantly keeping the area clean, wiped down with your clorox wipes, and checking to ensure your condiments are staying cold.
I've tried it all kinds of ways to do this stuff, and this works best for me.  The more you go out with the cart, the more you will find ways to eliminate extra steps, save time, and rock and roll. 
I actually held a block/tast testing party when I first got the cart and figured a lot of things out prior to the first time out for real $$$.  I'm still trying to find ways to speed things up and always looking for new ideas to make things more efficent. 
Good luck!
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/10 13:00:05
I've watched vendors wearing gloves, and in my opinion, any perception someone may have that it would be BETTER and SAFER to have a hotdog from someone wearing gloves is flawed.  On the other side of the coin, I see a guy here holding the bun in his bare hand EVERY time.  And he still seems to do pretty well depsite that obvious problem.  Anyway
A box of gloves is displayed on top of my display case for show...  Anyone working my cart is trained to do the following:
Though this is a horrible problem in reality, people DO think purel is golden when it comes to protecting everyone from disease.  So I instruct everyone to hit the purel often.
Tongs in right hand or in small steam pan full of water... no exceptions...
Left hand grabs wax wrap or foil
Left hand grabs bun (protected by wax or foil)
Right hand with tongs opens bun... left hand holds bun (through wax)
hand holding tongs opens lids
right hand with tongs places dog on bun
add condiments that require tongs
place tongs in hot water
mustard, mayo, ketchup, etc.
yer done...  never touched a thing that someone eats...
take money... repeat...
cost of gloves...  $0
customer satisfaction...  99%
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/11 10:30:12
The gloves are a huge pain in the rear. I found some gloves at Gordon Foods that work decently. They are vinyl and come in a 100 ct box and are not cheap. They have a textured bumpy deal going on with them. But, they are easier to put on then the laytex or the big floppy ones when it is 100+ degrees in the trailer. I don't care what anyone says, when in that heat you can never get your hands dry enough to put these darn things on. I have even had customers tell me forget the gloves, I just saw you wash your hands.
Gene's Dogs
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/11 19:46:50
I decided to post this short video for the newbies to see.  It's the no-glove method I use, similar to what others are describing here. 
Now, I must say that this works for me with the particular buns I use.  While you can handle condiments with the DD pointed out, some folks don't like kraut, so you might need several pair at once.  I will admit that while the little plastic condiment cups, so heartily enjoyed by my HD, cost about .05 each.  They really make my job MUCH neater and cleaner and I only need one tong at a time. 
I used name brand commercial buns that are separated in the package when I get them.  The old time guy that taught me how to do this uses buns that are sliced, but stuck together right out of the package.  He drops all eight into a food-safe plastic bin with lid and uses tong and foil to tear them apart, then uses the method you see me doing.
I hope this gives a good visual.  It was very windy here, adverse conditions.  I don't know how to edit video so it's my whole hot dog vend.  I found learning how to eat sushi with chop sticks is good practice, too!
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/12 08:12:50
  Good Job on the video Gene.  No offense meant but that method seemed slow.  I don't have that much time to spend with an order.  I place my buns on my cooler lid with the package untied and just folded over until needed.  When I get an order, with my left hand (I am right handed) I open the bun package and with my right hand holding tongs (they need to become an extension of your hand!) I grab a loose pre-sliced bun and place it on the flattop and butter it.  With my left I grab a 2.5 cut tray and place the bun in it, after it's toasted.  With the tongs (right hand) I open the bun and put the dog in it, one movement, then set it down and with my left hand I open whatever condiment the customer wants and top the dog.  The only condiment that I serve myself is sauteed onions/peppers and homemade kraut, the customer self-serves the rest, catsup, mustard, onions, pickles and jalapenos.  with my left hand I take payment and make change out of a three pocket apron or swipe a card.  I NEVER touch the food or allow the food anywhere other than the cut tray.  The tongs very seldom ever leave my right hand.  You quickly learn to grab stuff without setting the tongs down, you just sort of flip them up between your thumb and forefinger and use the rest of your fingers to grab.  when I have about 20 people lined up I can work 6 orders at once and I need to so that I don't loose any customers due to wait time.  If I had a Top Dog cart, with that 36" flattop, I could and would work more.  You kind of learn to be an octopus and multi multitask!
The Salty Dog
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/14 22:06:41
Thanks Gene for the video and braving the elements - safe to assume she tipped you...way to go!  I guess I will figure it out and I am sure my HD will correct anything I am doing wrong at initial inspection.  Thanks for everyones methods - just hope I am not too busy the first day.  Farmboy - uou are fortunate to let your customers do their own portion is most likely different than what my customer wants - so I figure will go with the light, medium, heavy question when order is
The Salty Dog
Re:Supply Questions 2011/03/14 22:15:34
Diamonddogs - you use the 1-glove method and described everything but the money exchange in good detail - like your set-up...I will see if HD will reconsider on condiments (i.e. mustard/ketchup/relish) do not have the mustard/ketchup chilled?!? sits out all day???...and then reuse the next day?