This case study was submitted from one of our customers and provides a detailed look at how running one of our carts can be an ideal venture for the right person.

What a wonderful way to make money while attending school. Last spring a couple of guys who attend Michigan University purchased two carts and started their own business. Last I heard they were doing quite well with it. As most businesses this requires a lot of hard work but the benefits can be rewarding.

Ok here’s some info on the Hummer which is, in my opinion, a top of the line hot dog cart, superior to most with the exception of the A101 which is a restaurant on wheels.

Hummer: costs $3499.00 + $155.95 + crating & delivery fee = $3654.95

  • 1/2 ton highway suspension system which allows it to travel up to speeds of 110km/hr behind your vehicle.
  • 18 gauge all stainless steel custom made cart, these are made by hand by the manufacturer Willy Dogs which by the way was featured on the food network channel last night.
  • Operates and heats water and steam table with a 20lb propane tank (not included due to regulations)
  • Tons of under cart storage for all of your items
  • A large insulated box to keep your drinks or meat product in, this is wet/dry ice held.
  • Hot & cold water hand sink
  • one sink is included, but additional sinks can be added as optional
  • 5 bay steam table. 3 large pans, 2 small. Plenty of room for a great menu.
  • 1 7/8 inch ball towing package installed
  • Light kit included but not installed due to vehicle variances

Health Department Regulations

Every county is different even though we all live in the same state. By the way, I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana and have been running hot dog carts here for 6 years.

Call your county and ask questions.

Do you need a commissary? A commissary is a licensed food establishment that will vouch for you, stating in a letter that they will let you use their place for storage and preparation of food as well as cleaning the unit. This could be a bar, restaurant, gas station or meat market that you have obligated yourself to purchase all your meat from. They will need to give you a letter to give to the county.

Depending on your food choices you will probably need someone to be a certified food handler. This isn’t a huge deal. It consists of food safety education, I teach the classes and administer the exam here in Ft Wayne for $115.00. My next class is in February. This is a state exam. You may find that you could take it on campus. (Certified Food Manager Exam) approved by the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals.

Your cart will come with a small start up kit to include mustard dispensers, tongs and a couple of other items. The only thing you would really need to purchase to start up your cart is an ice model condiment tray, apron, hat and fill your propane tank to be off and running.

Not sure how much your permit is, each county is different. My runs about $195.00 per year.

Here’s a projected profit model to look at. Each will differ depending on your food choice and cost:

Sold/Day 100 150 200 250 300 350
Average Vend $3.50 $3.50 $3.50 $3.50 $3.50 $3.50
Cost: Hot Dog/Sausage $0.35 $0.35 $0.35 $0.35 $0.35 $0.35
Bun $0.20 $0.20 $0.20 $0.20 $0.20 $0.20
Condiments $0.15 $0.15 $0.15 $0.15 $0.15 $0.15
Drink $0.27 $0.27 $0.27 $0.27 $0.27 $0.27
Chips or Cookies $0.20 $0.20 $0.20 $0.20 $0.20 $0.20
Total Cost per Vend $1.17 $1.17 $1.17 $1.17 $1.17 $1.17
Daily Net Profit $233 $349 $466 $582 $699 $815
x 5 Days Weekly $1,165 $1,747 $2,330 $2,912 $3,495 $4,077
x 4 Weeks $4,660 $6,990 $9,320 $11,650 $13,980 $16,310
x 52 Weeks $60,580 $90,870 $121,160 $151,450 $181,740 $212,030

Assumptions: average vend consists of a Hot Dog, Chips, & Drink for $3.50. Average working day is from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. (Peak lunch hours)