How to Operate a Hot Dog Cart in Georgia

According to "Entrepreneur" magazine, hot dog vendors can earn $4,000 a month or more.
According to "Entrepreneur" magazine, hot dog vendors can earn $4,000 a month or more. (Image: hot dogs neon sign image by Karin Lau from

Start-up costs for operating a hot dog cart are between $2,000 and $10,000, and it is common for hot dog vendors to make $4,000 profit or more per month as of September 2010, according to "Entrepreneur" magazine. Obtaining permits and business licenses is usually the biggest hurdle for vendors, with some counties requiring the same type of compliance as full-fledged restaurants. In Georgia, the Department of Public Health monitors and regulates the operation of mobile food vendors including hot dog carts.

Comply with equipment regulations. The Georgia Department of Public Health requires mobile vendors to carry a metal stem thermometer, numerically scaled, and accurate to plus or minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit for immersion into food or cooking medium. You should also have enough potable water for preparing the food, cleaning equipment, sanitizing utensils and for washing hands. If you have ice, you should buy it in a bag already chipped, cubed or crushed. You should only give customers single-use, individually wrapped dispensable utensils. Food-contact surfaces should have a shield to protect it from customer contamination. Your hot dog cart should also be able to produce enough hot water to clean utensils.

Comply with preparation and service standards in Georgia. The Georgia Department of Public Health prohibits serving food that was prepared at home. Preparing and serving potentially hazardous food items such as sandwiches containing meat, eggs, poultry, or pastries with cream or synthetic fillings is prohibited. In fact, the only types of food that you can prepare and serve in Georgia from a mobile food establishment are hamburgers and hot dogs. You should store all your food at or below 41 degrees, or above 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

Report to a base of operations. Georgia law requires all mobile food vendors to report daily to a base of operations or food service establishment. This base of operations can be the hot dog cart itself, but in the event that you are an extension of an established business, you are required to report once to the base for cleaning and servicing.

Enclose extra food items. If you are serving snow cones or popcorn, the Georgia Department of Public Health requires that you construct these areas so they are fully enclosed.

Greet customers and develop relationships. Anticipate the needs of your regular customers. Start preparing their usual hot dogs before they ask you. Offer cold drinks or snow cones during the hot summer months.

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