Many people all over the country enjoy hot dogs, and some find it both convenient and nostalgic to buy them from a hot dog cart. Whether you plan to offer Sonorans, Slaw Dogs or Kosher-style hot dogs, this can be an enjoyable, profitable business venture. Before opening a hot dog stand, you will need to obtain several permits and equipment.
Food permits and licenses are required in just about every locality, for all types of food businesses, including hot dog stands. These necessary documents are usually distributed by city and state public health departments, and their intent is to ensure that you are properly trained on how to cook and serve the hot dogs you sell. Depending on where your hot dog stand is located, you might need the following food permits: food handler permit; food manager certification; temporary food vendor permit; mobile food vending license; food enterprise permit.
Hot dog stands require more than just a cart, hot dogs and buns. The type of equipment you'll need depends on the type of hot dog stand you plan to open. Some use a simple rolling food cart, while other hot dog vendors use a food truck or trailer. Equipment you might need includes a mobile hot dog cart, trailer or food vending truck; signage to display your business name and menu; disposable hot dog trays, napkins, forks, knives, spoons and cups (if you sell beverages); a commercial hot dog warmer or cooker; bulk-size condiments such as ketchup, relish, mustard and mayonnaise; bulk packages of hot dogs; packaged buns (if you will not be making your own); fresh ingredients such as cheese, onions, peppers and other vegetables.
Different cities and states require different types of business licenses to start a hot dog stand. The government website Business.gov (see Resources) has a business license tool that can help you find what you'll need. Alternatively, contact your local small business development center or Small Business Association (SBA) office. You might need one or more of the following business licenses: assumed name certificate (DBA); employer identification number, also known as an EIN or Federal Tax Identification Number, from the IRS; sales tax and use permit; and a resale permit if you plan to purchase hot dogs or condiments wholesale and then resell them.